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Aero-Structural Optimization of Winglet for Regional Transport Aircraft

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Our customer is a high technology oriented institution with a mandate to develop aerospace technologies as well as design and build small / medium sized civil aircrafts. For regional transport aircraft, winglets were considered an essential design feature as they reduce the induced drag. However, winglets also produce additional bending moment for which main wing needs to be strengthened. Therefore, an optimized winglet design was desired that gives maximum drag reduction with minimum weight increase.

Zeus Numerix adopted a Genetic Algorithm based optimization technique for winglet design. Winglets were aerodynamically evaluated using 3D Navier Stokes CFD simulations, whereas, their impact on structural weight of composite wing was determined using FEA analysis. In an automated manner, approx. 1000 candidate designs were evaluated. Due to massive computing requirement, Zeus Numerix implemented and executed the optimization framework on grid computing architecture.

Illustration

The customer was delivered with the parametric design of winglet that demonstrated 14% reduction in drag. The customer was also shown the feasibility of carrying out complex design optimization using GA, which is now possible due to availability of the computing resources. This exercise helped customer to prove the readiness-level of using frontier simulation technologies for aircraft design.

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