AbstractA freely available software has been developed to support engineers and academicians in the conceptual design of aircraft, with emphasis on improved prediction of stability and control. It integrates the main design disciplines of aerodynamics, structures and flight dynamics, impacting the aircraft’s performance. This freeware is running on an interactive MATLAB platform with baseline geometries available. A Swiss company, involved in software development, is offering technical support to users.
DetailsContemporary commercial aircraft conceptual design systems make extensive use of handbook methods based on semi-empirical theory and data. More sophisticated and powerful in-house developed industrial software systems usually alter the widely recognized handbook methods by way of recalibrating the said algorithms with data gleaned from experience and previous design projects. A growing consensus of opinion, however, finds even such recalibrated handbook methods are not reliable enough for treating novel and unconventional designs, and thus, there is a trend towards replacing the methods with computational procedures that calculate the required information from first principles. In order to address this need, an innovative software was developed, which is running on an interactive MATLAB platform.
This innovative software is a conceptual aircraft design tool. It was developed within the frame of the SimSAC (Simulating Aircraft Stability And Control Characteristics for Use in Conceptual Design) Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP) approved for funding by the European Commission 6th Framework Programme on Research, Technological Development and Demonstration. Work began 1 November 2006 and lasted 3 years (see www.simsacdesign.eu).
The outcome of the European project is a software that initially focuses on rapid low fidelity analysis, resorting to higher fidelity numerical simulations when needed. The simulator involves stability and control driven sizing and optimization early in the design cycle and runs under either Windows or Linux, only requiring a MATLAB license. The overriding vision of this tool is the procurement of an integrated design and decision making environment where for a given aircraft morphology and local topologies, all necessary predictive computations can take place at some user nominated fidelity during the early conceptual design phase.
Present trends in aircraft design tend towards augmented-stability and expanded flight envelopes call for a more accurate description of the flight-dynamic behaviour of the aircraft in order to properly design the flight control system (FCS), hence the need to increase the knowledge about stability and control (S&C) as early as possible in the aircraft development process in order to be first-time-right with the FCS design architecture.
- Multi-disciplinary software, allowing for aero-elasticity analysis, flight control design, as well as stability and control analysis early in the conceptual design phase.
- Predictive computations and simulations can be achieved with user-selected input.
- Baseline geometries available as a starting point.
- Conceptual design of aircraft tool in a free, interactive MATLAB environment.