Data Management in an Object-Oriented Distributed Aircraft Conceptual Design Environment
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Aircraft conceptual design, as the first design stage, provides major opportunity to compress design cycle time and is the cheapest place for making design changes. However, traditional aircraft conceptual design programs, which are monolithic programs, cannot provide satisfactory functionality to meet new design requirements due to the lack of domain flexibility and analysis scalability. Therefore, we are in need of the next generation aircraft conceptual design environment (NextADE). To build the NextADE, the framework and the data management problem are two major problems that need to be addressed at the forefront. Solving these two problems, particularly the data management problem, is the focus of this research. In this dissertation, a distributed object-oriented framework is firstly formulated and tested for the NextADE. In order to improve interoperability and simplify the integration of heterogeneous application tools, data management is one of the major problems that need to be tackled. To solve this problem, taking into account the characteristics of aircraft conceptual design data, a robust, extensible object-oriented data model is then proposed according to the distributed object-oriented framework. By overcoming the shortcomings of the traditional approach of modeling aircraft conceptual design data, this data model makes it possible to capture specific detailed information of aircraft conceptual design without sacrificing generality. Based upon this data model, a prototype of the data management system, which is one of the fundamental building blocks of the NextADE, is implemented utilizing the state of the art information technologies. Using a general-purpose integration software package to demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed framework and the data management system, the NextADE is initially implemented by integrating the prototype of the data management system with other building blocks of the design environment. As experiments, two case studies are conducted in the integrated design environments. One is based upon a simplified conceptual design of a notional conventional aircraft; the other is a simplified conceptual design of an unconventional aircraft. As a result of the experiments, the proposed framework and the data management approach are shown to be feasible solutions to the research problems.