Improving the fuel efficiency of a transport aircraft by minimizing the weight of its non-planar lifting surface

Design, construction and manufacturing of flying vehicles


Gueraiche D. *, Popov S. A.**

Moscow Aviation Institute (National Research University), 4, Volokolamskoe shosse, Moscow, А-80, GSP-3, 125993, Russia



The article evaluates the effect of various design solutions, improving the wing lift-to-drag ratio of a medium-range transport aircraft, on its fuel efficiency. In particular, the most common on modern airliners design solution , which consists in employing a non-planar lifting surface in the form of the classical wing-winglet combination, has been studied in details. A designing calculation technique has been developed for determining the magnitude of aerodynamic loading for various non-planar wing configurations, with account for increments of the local angles of attack and sideslip. These local angles change simultaneously with the general angle of attack changes, resulting in a non-uniform growth of the aerodynamic force coefficient along the wing-winglet span. Geometrical analysis allowed the representing the local lift coefficient as a function of the general angle of attack of the aircraft. The integral of this spanwise lift distribution function along the wing-winglet span allowed calculate of the total aerodynamic loading. The obtained local lift distribution function along a non-planar lifting surface has been applied to estimate the changes in total aerodynamic loading of an aeroelastic wing, the non-planar upward flexed shape of which can be easily parametrized through a second order function.

Weight-equivalents comparison of different configurations allowed perform a quantitative analysis of the increase in the aircraft fuel efficiency, resulted from the increase of the lift-to-drag ratio, aerodynamic loading redistribution along the wing-span and corresponding changes of the wing structural weight. The internal structural layout of the wing was chosen arbitrarily, so the structural weight growth was determined as a function of the structural material density, given the hypothesis that sustaining the initial margin of safety without changing the wing structure can be achieved solely by choosing a material with a higher ultimate strength, and as a result a higher density.


non-planar wing of a transport aircraft, winglets, take-off weight gradients, multidisciplinary optimization, aeroelastic wing


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