Research in Flight proposes to assist in dramatically improving the tool set available to the NASA aircraft design community by providing an expansion to the lower order, high fidelity tool set to enable the analysis of high lift configurations. The primary NASA goal for transport aircraft, reducing fuel burn, leads to novel and interesting configurations, some of which do not fall within the conventional design space. Some of these configurations are innovative with regard to fuel burn but must be evaluated for the limiting flight conditions such as a range of takeoff and landing scenarios. For some of these high lift conditions, the flow is separated on at least a portion of the lifting surfaces. For the attached flow conditions, some preliminary design level tools are available for estimating lift for example but for the configurations which are separated, there are no good lower order options for reliably determining maximum lift. The expansion of the high lift analysis capability already available with FlightStream will substantially improve the efficiency of the NASA transport design team and thus lead to the consideration of more novel concepts and ultimately better recommendations for aircraft design methodology.
Commercial airframers conduct extensive preliminary design level studies using lower order tools. The more reliable and diverse these capabilities become, the more efficient the design process becomes. The commercial manufacturers also are required to consider hundreds of flight conditions for certification purposes. Often these flight conditions can only be evaluated with even rudimentary levels of accuracy using very advanced and computationally expensive CFD methods, wind tunnel tests or even flight tests. This pushes the discovery of potential problems into the detailed design or even testing phase, at potentially great expense. The earlier in the process that the high risk flight conditions can be accurately analyzed, the more efficient and less expensive the design process becomes. Boeing spent a reported 8 billion dollars on the certification of the 787 transport aircraft. Reducing this cost is absolutely critical to the future of US leadership in commercial aviation. The proposed improvement to FlightStream will offer the commercial users the opportunity to much more reliably predict high lift flight conditions at the preliminary design level using a lower order but ever higher fidelity tool and thereby saving substantial time and resources. Research in Flight has sold copies of FlightStream in the commercial transport market and in the UAV market. This success is expected to accelerate with added capability for this low order, high fidelity tool.