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Use Case: Aileron Structural Design

Following our round of interviews, we take a look at the Aileron Use Case that the partner GKN Fokker Aerostructures is working on. This use case deals with the multidisciplinary trade-off.

Visualization of a generated Aileron for the DEFAINE use case. Note that this is only one of the many designs and views available.

We interview Bas van Manen, an Associate Design Engineer at the Centre of Competence - Design of GKN Fokker Aerostructures

What is the high-level business problem?

Making certain design choices in the conceptual design phase have a great impact in the final design of the structure. Once a certain choice is made, it becomes very expensive to change this later in the process. It is therefore very important to explore as much possibilities as possible in the conceptual design phase, since the design is still open for improvements. Not only is it very time-consuming to explore a great amount of designs, but how do you really know that the most optimum design in terms of weight and cost has been chosen?

Why cannot we explore it today, with the methods you have in the company?

Using a front-loaded process, we can already automate most of the design analysis for a single, non-sized design point. The design architecture is configured manually and also the material allocation is applied manually. This works when it is exactly known what the architecture will look like and the structure needs to be sized. When multiple architectures need to be explored, this becomes a cumbersome and time-consuming task. When exploring an entire design space with thousands of design points, this becomes an impossible task.

In what way will DEFAINE will then help with?

Within DEFAINE, methods are being developed to automatically generate workflows for a multi-architecture optimization problem. Automating this process not only means that the lead-time will be reduced, more architectures can (automatically) be analyzed. This results in “smarter” design points (accounting for design sensitivity), making it easier to anticipate for design changes and choosing a more robust design.

What results have you achieved so far?

GKN Fokker’s Multidisciplinary Modelers (MDM) tool has been extended by a stress model, making it possible to automatically calculate structural reserve factors. Furthermore, this tool can be implemented in a fully automated (multi-architecture) design optimization workflow. This means lots of data can be generated to explore a variety of design architectures with minimal input parameters of the wing geometry.

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