An Intelligent, Robust Approach to Volumetric Aircraft Sizing
Upton, Eric George
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Advances in computational power have produced great strides in the later design and production portions of an aircraft s life cycle, and these advances have included the internal layout component of the design and manufacturing process. However, conceptual and preliminary design tools for internal layout remain primarily based on historical regressions and estimations a situation that becomes untenable when considering revolutionary designs or component technologies. Bringing internal layout information forward in the design process can encourage the same level of benefits enjoyed by other disciplines as advances in aerodynamics, structures and other fields propagate forward in the design of complex systems. Accurate prediction of the volume required to contain all of an aircraft s internal components results in a more accurate prediction of aircraft specifications, mission effectiveness, and costs, helping determine if an aircraft is the best choice for continued development. This is not a computationally simple problem, however, and great care must be taken to ensure the efficiency of any proposed solution. Any solution must also address the uncertainty inherent in describing internal components early in the design process. Implementing a methodology that applies notions of an intelligent search for a solution, as well as deals robustly with component sizing, produces a high chance of success. Development of a robust, rapid method for assessing the volumetric characteristics of an aircraft in the context of the conceptual and preliminary design processes can offer many of the benefits of a complete internal layout without the immense assignment of resources typical in the detail phase of the design process. A simplified methodology for volumetrically sizing an aircraft is presented here as well as an assessment of the state-of-the-art techniques for volumetric considerations used in current aircraft design literature. A prototype tool using a combination of original code and publicly available libraries is developed and explored. A sample aircraft design is undertaken with the prototype tool to demonstrate the effectiveness of the methodology.