Purpose– The purpose of this research is to explore innovative aircraft concepts that use flexible wings and distributed propulsion to significantly reduce fuel burn of future transport aircraft by exploiting multidisciplinary interactions. Design/methodology/approach– Multidisciplinary analysis and trajectory optimization are used to evaluate the mission performance benefits of flexible wing distributed propulsion aircraft concepts. Findings– The flexible wing distributed propulsion aircraft concept was shown to achieve a 4 per cent improvement in L/D over a mission profile consisting of a minimum fuel climb, minimum fuel cruise and continuous descent. Practical implications– The technologies being investigated may lead to mission adaptive aircraft that can minimize drag, and thus fuel burn, throughout the flight envelope. Originality/value– The aircraft concepts being explored seek to create synergistic interactions between disciplines for reducing fuel burn while capitalizing on the potential benefits of lightweight, flexible wing structures and distributed propulsion.
Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 30, 2014
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