Journal Article

High-fidelity design-allocation optimization of a commercial aircraft maximizing airline profit


J. T. Hwang, J. Jasa, and J. R. R. A. Martins


Journal of Aircraft, 56(3):1165–1178, 2019



Traditionally, computational design optimization of commercial aircraft is performed by considering a small number of representative operating conditions. These conditions are based on the design Mach number, altitude, payload, and range for which the aircraft will be flown. However, the design also influences which routes and mission parameters are optimal, and so there is coupling that is ignored when using the traditional approach. Here, the aircraft design, mission profiles, and the allocation of aircraft to routes in an airline network are simultaneously optimized. This is a mixed-integer nonlinear programming problem that is reformulated as a nonlinear programming problem because of the large number of design variables. The reformulated problem is solved using a gradient-based optimization approach with a parallel computational framework that facilitates the multidisciplinary analysis and the derivative computation. A surrogate model is used for the computational fluid dynamics analysis that is retrained in each optimization iteration given the new set of shape design variables. The resulting optimization problem contains over 4,000 design variables and close to 14,000 constraints. The optimization results show a 2% increase in airline profit compared with the traditional multipoint optimization approach. The wing area increases to the upper bound, enabling a higher cruise altitude that improves propulsive efficiency. This study finds that simultaneously optimizing the allocation, mission, and design to maximize airline profit results in a different optimized wing design from that resulting from the multipoint optimization approach.