Aircraft Wing Design Via Numerical Optimization: Are We There Yet?

Joaquim R. R. A. Martins
Joaquim R. R. A. Martins

Event Location: 

Mohler Lab, Room 453

Wing shape is a crucial characteristic that has a large impact on aircraft performance. Wing design optimization has been an active area of research for several decades, but achieving practical designs has been a challenge. One of the main challenges is the wing flexibility, which requires the consideration of both aerodynamics and structures. To address this, the simultaneous optimization of the outer mold line of a wing and its structural sizing is proposed. The solution of such design optimization problems is made possible by a framework for high-fidelity aerostructural optimization. This framework combines a three-dimensional CFD solver, a finite-element structural model of the wingbox, a geometry modeler, and a gradient-based optimizer. This framework computes the flying shape of a wing and is able to optimize aircraft configurations with respect to hundreds of aerodynamic shape and internal structural sizes. The theoretical developments include coupled-adjoint sensitivity analysis, and an automatic differentiation adjoint approach. The algorithms resulting from these developments are all implemented to take advantage of massively parallel computers. Applications to the optimization of aircraft configurations demonstrate the effectiveness of these approaches in designing aircraft wings for minimum fuel burn. The results show optimal tradeoffs with respect to wing span and sweep, which was previously not possible with high-fidelity single-discipline models.

Bio Sketch: 

Joaquim R. R. A. Martins is an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, where he heads the Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Laboratory (MDOlab) in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. His research involves the development and application of MDO methodologies to the design of aircraft configurations, with a focus on high-fidelity simulations that take advantage of high-performance parallel computing. Before joining the University of Michigan faculty in September 2009, he was an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, where from 2002 he held a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Multidisciplinary Optimization. Prof. Martins received his undergraduate degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Imperial College, London, with a British Aerospace Award. He obtained both his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University, where he was awarded the Ballhaus prize for best thesis in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He was a keynote speaker at the International Forum on Aeroelasticity and Structural Dynamics (2007), Aircraft Structural Design Conference (2010), and SIAM Optimization (2014). He has received the Best Paper Award in the AIAA Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization Conference three times (2002, 2006, and 2012). He is a member of the AIAA MDO Technical Committee. He is also an Associate Editor for Optimization and Engineering, AIAA Journal, and Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization.