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Technical Paper

New Approaches to Conceptual and Preliminary Aircraft Design: A Comparative Assessment of a Neural Network Formulation and a Response Surface Methodology

This paper critically evaluates the use of Neural Networks (NNs) as metamodels for design applications. The specifics of implementing a NN approach are researched and discussed, including the type and architecture appropriate for design-related tasks, the processes of collecting training and validation data, and training the network, resulting in a sound process, which is described. This approach is then contrasted to the Response Surface Methodology (RSM). As illustrative problems, two equations to be approximated and a real-world problem from a Stability and Controls scenario, where it is desirable to predict the static longitudinal stability for a High Speed Civil Transport (HSCT) at takeoff, are presented. This research examines Response Surface Equations (RSEs) as Taylor series approximations, and explains their high performance as a proven approach to approximate functions that are known to be quadratic or near quadratic in nature.
Technical Paper

A Technique for Testing and Evaluation of Aircraft Flight Performance During Early Design Phases

A technique is proposed for examining complex behaviors in the “pilot - vehicle - operational conditions” system using an autonomous situational model of flight. The goal is to identify potentially critical flight situations in the system behavior early in the design process. An exhaustive set of flight scenarios can be constructed and modeled on a computer by the designer in accordance with test certification requirements or other inputs. Distinguishing features of the technique include the autonomy of experimentation (the pilot and a flight simulator are not involved) and easy planning and quick modeling of complex multi-factor flight cases. An example of mapping airworthiness requirements into formal scenarios is presented. Simulation results for various flight situations and aircraft types are also demonstrated.
Technical Paper

Use of Flight Simulation in Early Design: Formulation and Application of the Virtual Testing and Evaluation Methodology

In current design practices, safety, operational and handling criteria are often overlooked until late design stages due to the difficulty in capturing such criteria early enough in the design cycle and in the presence of limited and uncertain knowledge. Virtual (flight) testing and evaluation, based on autonomous modeling and simulation, is proposed as a solution to this shortcoming. The methodology enables one to evaluate vehicle behavior in relatively complex situations through a series of specific flight scenarios. Bringing this methodology to conceptual design requires the creation of an automatic link between the design database and the autonomous flight simulation environment. This paper describes the creation of such a link and an implementation of the Virtual Testing and Evaluation methodology with the use of an advanced design concept.
Technical Paper

A Technique for Use of Gaussian Processes in Advanced Meta-Modeling

Current robust design methods rely heavily on meta-modeling techniques to reduce the total computational effort of probabilistic explorations to a combinatorially manageable size. Historically most of these meta-models were in the form of Response Surface Equations (RSE). Recently there has been interest in supplementing the RSE with techniques that better handle non-linear phenomena. One technique that has been identified is the Gaussian Process (GP). The GP has fewer initial assumptions when compared to the linear methods used by RSEs and, therefore, fewer limitations. The initial implementation and employment techniques proposed in current literature for use with the GP are barely modified versions of those used for RSEs. A better, more tailored technique needs to be developed to properly make use of the nature of the GP, and minimize the effect of some of its limitations. Such a technique would allow for rapid development of a reusable, computationally efficient and accurate GP.
Technical Paper

Method for the Exploration of Cause and Effect Links and Derivation of Causal Trees from Accident Reports

The ultimate goal of knowledge-based aircraft design, pilot training and flight operations is to make flight safety an inherent, built-in feature of the flight vehicle, such as its aerodynamics, strength, economics and comfort are. Individual flight accidents and incidents may vary in terms of quantitative characteristics, circumstances, and other external details. However, their cause-and-effect patterns often reveal invariant structure or essential causal chains which may re-occur in the future for the same or other vehicle types. The identification of invariant logical patterns from flight accident reports, time-histories and other data sources is very important for enhancing flight safety at the level of the ‘pilot - vehicle -operational conditions’ system. The objective of this research project was to develop and assess a method for ‘mining’ knowledge of typical cause-and-effect patterns from flight accidents and incidents.