NASA's current research efforts in aircraft design focus on many performance improvement goals such as aircraft weight minimization, aerodynamic drag reduction, and improvements in fuel efficiency of the next generation sub/supersonic commercial aircraft. These design drivers call for investigation of unconventional and revolutionary design concepts. The ZONA/Boeing team's innovative modular design process will enable the physics-based structural, aerodynamic, and aeroelastic analyses of such complex configurations, thereby greatly improving the current knowledge-base of NASA's Fundamental Aerodynamics Program. By performing a detailed design optimization of non-conventional SUGAR aircraft, ZONA/Boeing team will further the knowledge of such structural and configurational concepts as strut-braced high-aspect ratio wings, distributed multiple control surfaces, variable camber continuous trailing edge flaps, etc. The outcome of Phase I + II effort will largely expand NASA's technology portfolio by analyzing the non-conventional aircraft concepts to meet the future performance goals. The research performed in this effort can be easily extended to other relevant ongoing NASA projects, such as X-56A MUTT aircraft wings, HALE aircraft etc.
Because of its highly integrated design and analysis capability for designing non-conventional structural concepts with aeroelastic constraints, high fidelity structural and aerodynamic analyses, and ability to perform nonlinear trim optimizations, ZONA has discovered that the proposed research and related function evaluation process has a unique competitive edge in the commercial and military aircraft design market. The structural and materials concepts explored in Phase I + II of this effort can be effectively extended for application towards many categories of flight vehicles including blended wing-bodies, joined-wings, sub/supersonic transports, morphing aircraft, space planes, reusable launch vehicles, and similar revolutionary concepts pursued. Hence, the proposed research and its outcomes will be highly needed for designing the next generation of civil as well as military aircraft to meet the stringent future performance goals.