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Accession Number N14-0004056
Title Comparison of Metallic, Composite and Nanocomposite Optimal Transonic Transport Wings.
Publication Date Mar 2014
Media Count 41p
Personal Author G. J. Kennedy G. K. W. Kenway J. R. R. Martins
Abstract Current and future composite material technologies have the potential to greatly improve the performance of large transport aircraft. However, the coupling between aerodynamics and structures makes it challenging to design optimal flexible wings, and the transonic flight regime requires high fidelity computational models. We address these challenges by solving a series of high-fidelity aerostructural optimization problems that explore the design space for the wing of a large transport aircraft. We consider three different materials: aluminum, carbon-fiber reinforced composites and an hypothetical composite based on carbon nanotubes. The design variables consist of both aerodynamic shape (including span), structural sizing, and ply angle fractions in the case of composites. Pareto fronts with respect to structural weight and fuel burn are generated. The wing performance in each case is optimized subject to stress and buckling constraints. We found that composite wings consistently resulted in lower fuel burn and lower structural weight, and that the carbon nanotube composite did not yield the increase in performance one would expect from a material with such outstanding properties. This indicates that there might be diminishing returns when it comes to the application of advanced materials to wing design, requiring further investigation.
Keywords Aerodynamics
Aircraft design
Composite materials
Composite structures
Design analysis
Flexible wings
Metal matrix composites
Structural weight
Transport aircraft

Source Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NTIS Subject Category 71F - Composite Materials
51 - Aeronautics & Aerodynamics
51A - Aerodynamics
89D - Structural Analyses
Corporate Author Michigan Univ., Ann Arbor.
Document Type Technical report
Title Note N/A
NTIS Issue Number 1421
Contract Number N/A

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