Journal Article

Design of a Transonic Wing with an Adaptive Morphing Trailing Edge via Aerostructural Optimization


D. A. Burdette, and J. R. R. A. Martins


Aerospace Science and Technology, 81192–203, 2018



Novel aircraft configurations and technologies like adaptive morphing trailing edges offer the potential to improve the fuel efficiency of commercial transport aircraft. To accurately quantify the benefits of morphing wing technology for commercial transport aircraft, high-fidelity design optimization that considers both aerodynamic and structural design with a large number of design variables is required. To address this need, we use a high fidelity aerostructural model that enables the detailed optimization of wing shape and sizing using hundreds of design variables. We perform a number of multipoint aerostructural optimizations to demonstrate the performance benefits offered by morphing technology and identify how those benefits are enabled. In a comparison of optimizations considering seven flight conditions, the addition of a morphing trailing edge device along the aft 40% of the wing can reduce cruise fuel burn by more than 5%. A large portion of fuel burn reduction due to morphing trailing edges results from a significant reduction in structural weight, enabled by adaptive maneuver load alleviation. We also show that a smaller morphing device along the aft 30% of the wing produces nearly as much fuel burn reduction as the larger morphing device, and that morphing technology is particularly effective for high aspect ratio wings.