A conceptual level framework for wing box structural design and analysis using a physics-based approach

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Potter, Charles Lee
Mavris, Dimitri N.
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There are many challenges facing the aerospace industry that can be addressed with new concepts, technologies, and materials. However, current design methods make it difficult to include these new ideas early in the design of aircraft. This is especially true in the structures discipline, which often uses weight-based methods based upon statistical regressions of historical data. A way to address this is to use physics-based structural analysis and design to create more detailed structural data. Thus, the overall research objective of this dissertation is to develop a physics-based structural analysis method to incorporate new concepts, technologies, and materials into the conceptual design phase. The design space of physics-based structural design problem is characterized as highly multimodal with numerous discontinuities; thus, a large number of alternatives must be explored. Current physics-based structural design methods tend to use high fidelity modeling and analysis tools that are computationally expensive. This dissertation proposes a modeling & simulation environment based on classical structural analysis methods. Using classical structural analysis will enable increased exploration of the design space by reducing the overall run time necessary to evaluate one alternative. The use of physics-based structural optimization using classical structural analysis is tested through experimentation. First the underlying hypotheses are tested in a canonical example by comparing different optimization algorithms ability to locate a global optimum identified through design space exploration. Then the proposed method is compared to a method based on higher fidelity finite element analysis as well as a method based on weight-based empirical data to validate the overall research objective.
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