Truss-Braced Wing | AOE| Virginia Tech

About Truss-Braced Wing Design


Left or right aligned image, 200 pixels wide maximum,  can be in portrait or landscape orientation

Fig.1: Minimum Fuel/Emissions and Minimum Weight Truss-Braced Aircraft

Left or right aligned image, 200 pixels wide
maximum,  can be in portrait or landscape orientation

Fig. 2: Arch-strut Concept

 right aligned image, 200 pixels wide
maximum,  can be in portrait or landscape orientation Fig.3: LMAS Strut-BracedWing Concept

Given the ever-increasing quest for energy security and its substantial impact on the aviation transport business, as well as on the environment, it is important to study and find aircraft configurations that can allow significant enhancements in overall performance. This is because the current commercial transport aircraft have converged to a cantilever wing configuration. Although significant advances have been made in the performance enhancement of such aircraft since the early years of aviation, only incremental improvements of relatively modest nature are now possible for this configuration. One of such promising configurations studied at the Multidisciplinary Analysis and Design Center for Advanced Vehicles at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is the strut-braced wing (SBW).


These studies have now been extended to design airplanes with truss-braced-wing configurations for a mission similar to a typical Boeing 777 mission; to fly 325 passengers across 7500 nautical miles at Mach 0.85. To give the reader a perspective of the configurations being considered, Fig. 1 shows a sketch of the cantilever and SBW aircraft that resulted from these studies. More complicated truss topologies are possible and a few are currently being investigated.

Our studies have indicated significant performance benefits from TBW aircraft configurations. The TBW has the potential for higher aerodynamic efficiency and a lower weight than a cantilever wing as a result of favorable interactions between structures and aerodynamics and, possibly, propulsion. The truss provides bending load alleviation to the wing, allowing the wing thickness to be reduced and the span to be increased at a given wing weight. Reduced wing thickness decreases the wave drag and parasite drag, and higher span reduces induced drag, which in turn increases aerodynamic efficiency. These favorable drag effects allow the wing to unsweep for increased regions of natural laminar flow and wing structural weight savings. Decreased weight, along with increased aerodynamic efficiency, permits engine size to be reduced. The strong synergism offers a potential for significant increases in performance over the cantilever wing. However, this synergism also requires a MDO approach to fully exploit the interdependencies of various design disciplines.

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