Structural Analysis At Aircraft Conceptual Design Stage
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In the past 50 years, computers have helped by augmenting human efforts with tremendous pace. The aircraft industry is not an exception. Aircraft industry is more than ever dependent on computing because of a high level of complexity and the increasing need for excellence to survive a highly competitive marketplace. Designers choose computers to perform almost every analysis task. But while doing so, existing effective, accurate and easy to use classical analytical methods are often forgotten, which can be very useful especially in the early phases of the aircraft design where concept generation and evaluation demands physical visibility of design parameters to make decisions [39, 2004]. Structural analysis methods have been used by human beings since the very early civilization. Centuries before computers were invented; the pyramids were designed and constructed by Egyptians around 2000 B.C, the Parthenon was built by the Greeks, around 240 B.C, Dujiangyan was built by the Chinese. Persepolis, Hagia Sophia, Taj Mahal, Eiffel tower are only few more examples of historical buildings, bridges and monuments that were constructed before we had any advancement made in computer aided engineering. Aircraft industry is no exception either. In the first half of the 20th century, engineers used classical method and designed civil transport aircraft such as Ford Tri Motor (1926), Lockheed Vega (1927), Lockheed 9 Orion (1931), Douglas DC-3 (1935), Douglas DC-4/C-54 Skymaster (1938), Boeing 307 (1938) and Boeing 314 Clipper (1939) and managed to become airborne without difficulty. Evidencing, while advanced numerical methods such as the finite element analysis is one of the most effective structural analysis methods; classical structural analysis methods can also be as useful especially during the early phase of a fixed wing aircraft design where major decisions are made and concept generation and evaluation demands physical visibility of design parameters to make decisions. Considering the strength and limitations of both methodologies, the question to be answered in this thesis is: How valuable and compatible are the classical analytical methods in today's conceptual design environment? And can these methods complement each other?To answer these questions, this thesis investigates the pros and cons of classical analytical structural analysis methods during the conceptual design stage through the following objectives:Illustrate structural design methodology of these methods within the framework of Aerospace Vehicle Design (AVD) lab's design lifecycle.Demonstrate the effectiveness of moment distribution method through four case studies. This will be done by considering and evaluating the strength and limitation of these methods. In order to objectively quantify the limitation and capabilities of the analytical method at the conceptual design stage, each case study becomes more complex than the one before.