Aerodynamic Load Simulation for Aircraft

Finding the right trade-off between drag and weight is a key challenge in wing design. A thinner transonic wing has lower drag but will also be much heavier, which adversely affects the airplane performance. And as any passenger can see through an airplane window the wing will deform under aerodynamic loads.


Finding the right answers to these challenges early in the design process through simulation can dramatically reduce development costs by eliminating expensive model builds and wind tunnel tests later in the process. In addition, being able to predict loads on small components – such as slats and flaps of a high-lift wing – allows support structures required for these components to be designed with the right dimensions already in the preliminary design phase, thus avoiding over-design and enabling significant weight reductions.



To understand the trade-off between a wing’s performance and its weight, you must be able to predict the aerodynamic loads as well as how the structure will react to these loads. This requires both an accurate flow solver and a structural solver as well an automatic coupling between the two. The flow solver predicts the distributed aerodynamic loads – either static or dynamic, transfers these loads to the structural solver in the appropriate format to predict the wing deflections.


Most CFD tools used today do not provide an automatic coupling between the flow and structural solvers required for productive use. So most aerodynamic predictions assume a rigid wing – a significant potential source of error leading to overdesign and expensive fixes later in the process.



Static aeroelastic response of a wing vs. flow velocity



Exa’s tools provide all the required components for accurate loads prediction. PowerFLOW® is inherently transient and caneasily and accurately predict surface pressure fluctuations that cause static loads and vibrations, thus providing a predictive capability to address deformation problems – both for entire wings and individual components. Static and transient loads are coupled with the customer's choice of structural solvers to compute static deformation and vibrations.


PowerFLOW’s capability to take into account even the most detailed geometric structures allows the prediction of static loads on small components such as flaps and slats. Support structures such as brackets and fairings can be optimized using PowerFLOW to enable significant weight reductions.






Selected References

Aerospace Technical Papers Bibliography


Exa Product Overview


The Physics Behind PowerFLOW




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