1998-09-28

Forecasting the Impact of Technology Infusion on Subsonic Transport Affordability 985576

The design of complex systems, such as commercial aircraft, has drastically changed since the middle 1970's. Budgetary and airline requirements have forced many aerospace companies to reduce the amount of time and monetary investments in future revolutionary concepts and design methods. The current NASA administration has noticed this shift in aviation focus and responded with the “Three Pillars for Success” program. This program is a roadmap for the development of research, innovative ideas, and technology implementation goals for the next 20 years. As a response to this program, the Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory at Georgia Tech is developing methods whereby forecasting techniques will aid in the proper assessment of future vehicle concepts. This method is called Technology Impact Forecasting (TIF). This method is applied to a medium-range, intra-continental, commercial transport concept. The method identifies system level metric values, including performance and economics, for present day technology levels and projects this vehicle into the year 2020. Four technologies are applied to the vehicle including composite wing and fuselage structures, circulation control, hybrid laminar flow control, and advanced flight control systems. The projection of this vehicle into 2020 could not satisfy the target percent reduction with respect to the affordability goals set forth in the“Three Pillars for Success” program. However, the power/advantage of the TIF method is clearly seen in this instance. In lieu of the blunt statement of failure, which provides no understanding or insight of the contributing factors or the method of resolution, a probabilistic environment is created for the decision maker/designer to play “what if” games. The ability is now present to assess the effect of relaxing target values, infusion of numerous technologies, and exploration of geometric design space decisions on the affordability of a future vehicle concept.

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