AME Team Enters Airplane Design Competition
A multi-disciplinary team of USC students has submitted proposals
early this summer to 2009-10 American Institute of Aeronautics and
International Team Aircraft Design Competition.
Responding to the Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by
the AIAA, the team developed and submitted five unique designs (seen
below) for a fuel efficient and environmentally friendly medium haul
commercial aircraft. Intended for a service entry date of 2020, the
new designs were requested to serve as a Boeing 737 and Airbus A320
replacement, closely replicating the present day challenge faced by
the aerospace industry.
Renderings of the 5 designs submitted by the USC team. First
row, left to right: Albatross, Levant. Second
row, left to
right: Ibis, Waxwing, Egret. These
designs show the use of advanced technologies including open
fan engines, high aspect ratio wings, and swept forward wing
Drawing on the various disciplines of USC's Aerospace and Mechanical
Engineering Department, as well as USC's School of Architecture and
College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, 10 undergraduate students
formed USC's Advanced Commercial Concepts team (UACC) to respond to
the AIAA's request.
USC's Advanced Commercial Concepts team. Left to right: Chris
Nsavu (Structures), Darin Gaytan (Aero-Performance), Phillip
Adkins (Aeroacoustics), Kristina Larson (Configuration
Management), Sina Golshany (Lead Designer), John Roehrick
(Weight), Michael Zarem (Systems), Keith Holmlund (High-Speed
Aerodynamics), Todd Erickson (Propulsion), Devin Lewis (Payload
Starting in September of 2009, team members were trained in various
disciplines pertaining to aircraft design by team leader Sina
Golshany, winner of the 2006-07 and 2007-08 individual aircraft design
competitions. Subjects included aircraft configuration, performance,
aerodynamics, weight, propulsion, noise, and environmental
impact. Beginning in the spring semester and drawing on the skills
developed in the fall, UACC team began work on the configuration of
multiple advanced designs. This led to the selection of the five
leading designs for further development. Following the end of the
spring semester, UACC started a month long intensive effort to
finalize the designs and prepare five 100 page proposals as well as
the associated large scale drawings. The design process ended on June
10, with the submission of the proposals to AIAA competition
committee. Results of the competition are expected to be released
later in the fall semester.
The goal of this competition is to design a replacement for the best
selling medium haul commercial aircraft; i.e. the Boeing 737 and
Airbus A320. These single aisle planes have been the largest and most
lucrative market in commercial aviation. In the 2009-2029
time frame, it is predicted that there will be a demand for 21
thousand new aircraft in this sector valued at $1.2 Trillion.
Financially, this represents the single largest market in the
aerospace industry. Hence, it is believed that there will be intense
international rivalry in the development of next-generation aircraft
to exploit this market, precipitating the use of revolutionary
concepts in the fields of aerodynamics, propulsion, structures,
systems, and alternative fuels.
In area of aerodynamics, UACC explored concepts pertaining to natural
laminar flow and ultra high aspect ratio wings in order to reduce drag
and increase the aerodynamic efficiency of the designs. Two of
the designs (Ibis and Levant) featured the novel concept
of swept forward wings, , which induces lateral flow from the tips to
the root of the wing thus promoting a significant reduction in drag.
Albatross, featuring high aspect ratio, natural laminar
flow wings and open fan engines installed over the
wings. Because of the large span, the wings must fold to allow
compatibility with smaller airport gates.
In the field of propulsion, open fan engines, along with advanced
geared turbofan engines were studied and utilized by UACC. The engines
were analyzed and designed in great detail, and it was discovered
that a 25% reduction in specific fuel consumption could be achieved by
utilizing the integrated open fan engine concepts.
All of the configurations developed by UACC extensively utilized
advanced composites as a means of reducing weight. Advanced composites
also enabled the use of high aspect ratio/low sweep wings as well as
the swept forward wings in the design.
In order to address the inefficiencies present in traditional aircraft
systems such as energy losses experienced in hydraulic, pneumatic,
and air conditioning systems, UACC implemented a fully electric
architecture in all of its designs, replacing many of the traditional
hydraulic/pneumatic functions of traditional system
architectures. This allowed for significant reductions in the design
weight and fuel burn.
The reduction in environmental impact also received particular
attention in the project. Driven by the possible introduction of
environmental taxation for the airline industry in the next two
decades, UACC chose to develop technologies that substantially reduce
the aircraft's impact on the environment at every stage of development
and utilization, including the use of renewable energy and carbon
neutral biofuels to power the aircraft.
Using these advanced concepts, UACC created conceptual designs that
are projected to gain as much as 30% reduction in fuel burn and 40%
reduction in direct operating cost.
Having finished their nine month endeavor, the UACC team members would
like to express their gratitude for the tremendous support of their
faculty mentors: Professors Ron Blackwelder, Oussama Safadi, Larry
Redekopp, Blaine Rawdon, and Mark Page. In addition, the assistance
provided by Marc Aubertine from USC's writing program and the members
of the USC AeroDesign team was essentail in the planning and writing
the proposal documents. Among many others, UACC would like to thank
Dr. David Glasgow at the USC's office of undergraduate research and
the Los Angeles branch of the AIAA's professional chapter chaired by
Dean Davis for providing the essential funding for this research
project to proceed. Last but not least the UACC team thanks USC's
commitment to educational and professional excellence and they look
forward to being a representative of the Trojan family.
—SG & TE