Sample Aeronautical Engineering Projects

Basler BT-67 Aerodynamic and Structural Analyses

A set of Ultra-WideBand (UWB) ice radar installations are integrated on a Basler BT-67 (turboprop DC-3) aircraft to measure bed topography, accumulation rates and basal conditions in the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets. This work is performed by a team of researchers at The University of Kansas (KU) and engineers at Design, Analysis and Research Corporation (DARcorporation). This team performed analyses on aerodynamics, structures, stability & control and performance. This team also fabricated all components and integrated the assembly onto the BT-67 aircraft. This work is supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through a major research instrumentation grant 1229716, as well as matching support from the State of Kansas.

DARcorporation engineers, as a subcontractor to the University of Kansas, participated in the analyses of aerodynamic characteristics and the structural configuration. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) cases are analyzed to generate aerodynamic loads, check for turbulence in the vicinity of the installation and optimize the aerodynamic shape. Performance studies are also conducted to investigate the implications of the installation on drag and hence range and endurance. Finite element models of the fairing are developed and various load cases are simulated. The attached structure is sized to not only survive the extreme load conditions by itself, but also to not introduce unacceptable additional loads to the airframe. Structural stability, dynamic modes, fatigue and aeroelasticity (flutter and divergence) are also inspected to ensure safe flights.

DARcorporation engineers are also involved in supporting the manufacturing and Ground Vibration Testing (GVT) of the installations.

The installation meets or exceeds safety requirements set forth by Transport Canada Civil Aviation. First flights of the fuselage array occurred in May 2015 and first flights of all three subarrays occurred in August 2015. The latter testing included take-off, cruise and landing for both wheel and ski configurations.



Glasair Merlin LSA

DARcorporation engineers assisted on the stability and control analysis and aerodynamic analysis of the new Glasair LSA Merlin. Trim diagrams with corresponding control surface deflections and lift coefficients were developed, as well as stall characteristics in regard to wing span trade studies. The airplane successfully went through its first flight test on April 7, 2015, in which a full test flight profile was tested including the engine reliability, flight control characteristics and standard flight maneuvers.

In March 2016 the Merlin LSA received FAA light-sport certification. Glasair plans to deliver the first of its completed aircraft to its customers, personal owners and flight schools, by the end of the year.


Cessna Icing Tanker Spray Boom Installation Structural Analysis

DARcorporation engineers carried out the structural design and analysis of a spray rig assembly mounted on a Cessna Citation XLS+ vertical tail for Cessna Aircraft Company. The spray rig produces controlled icing cloud for the desired icing test condition for certification purpose. The analysis involves in static strength, fastened and welded joints as well as buckling, normal modes, fatigue and aeroelasticity. High fidelity aeroelasticity simulation tool ZAERO is employed to inspect flutter and divergence within the aircraft flight envelope. Karman vortex shedding is also analyzed. DARcorporation engineers also produced all manufacturing drawings and laid out the assembling sequence.



Satellite Communications Radome Assembly Structural Analysis

DARcorporation is tasked to carry out structural analysis of a sandwich composite dorsal satellite communications radome assembly on the Boeing 737-700 airframe. The loads include combined aerodynamic, inertial, environmental temperature and decompression venting loads. DARcorporation engineers analyzed the stresses of all metallic and composite parts and also the bolted joints.



NASA P-3 EcoSAR Aerodynamic and Structural Analyses

Under NASA’s Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) managed by the Earth Science Technology Office, EcoSAR, an advanced airborne SAR instrument, is developed at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. The instrument is designed to provide two- and three-dimensional fine scale measurements of terrestrial ecosystem structure and biomass, helping our understanding of the carbon cycle and its relationship to climate change.

DARcorporation engineers, as a subcontractor to the University of Kansas who is tasked to develop the wing mounted radar enclosures, participated in the analyses of aerodynamic characteristics and the structural configuration. The installation is designed to withstand the extreme temperatures at cruise and loiter altitudes. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) cases were analyzed to check for turbulence in the vicinity of the installation. Performance studies were also conducted to investigate the implications of the installation on drag and hence range and endurance. An aerodynamically optimized shape of the fairing was developed based on the results from the performance trade studies and the CFD studies. A finite element model of the fairing was developed and various load cases were simulated. The attached structure is sized to not only survive the extreme load conditions by itself, but also to not introduce unacceptable additional loads to the P-3 airframe. Structural stability, dynamic modes and fatigue are also inspected to ensure safe flights.

DARcorporation engineers are also involved in static load testing and the dynamic modal testing of the installations at NOAA Aircraft Operations Center on the MacDill Air Force Base.

The installations were successfully test flown in March 2014 aboard a NOAA P-3 aircraft, conducting measurements over areas of the Bahamas and Costa Rica.

NASA News: EcoSAR Study Carbon-Rich Ecosystems

Published references include:



University of Kansas CReSIS DC-8 MCoRDS Aerodynamic and Structural Analyses

A team of University of Kansas CReSIS researchers and DARcorporation engineers, under the guidance of Dr. Richard Hale & Dr. Chris Allen, developed a five-element ground penetrating antenna array for the MCoRDS (Multichannel Coherent Radar Depth Sounder) installation on the DC-8 in support of NASA’s Operation IceBridge to use a radar-mounted DC-8 jet to study polar ice sheets and the effects of climate change on those sheets. The radar integration is in support to Operation IceBridge, which will enable scientists to survey the Earth's polar ice continuously during the gap after NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) stopped collecting science data in 2009 and before ICESat-2 is launched (planned for 2017).

DARcorporation engineers analyzed the aerodynamic characteristics and the structural configuration. The array is suspended beneath a ground plane and housed in composite fairings. The installation is designed to withstand the extreme temperatures at cruise and loiter altitudes in Antarctica. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) cases were analyzed to check for supersonic flow in the vicinity of the installation. And a series of performance studies were also conducted to see the implications of the installation on drag and hence range and endurance. An aerodynamically optimized shape of the fairing was developed based on the results from the performance trade studies and the CFD studies. A finite element model of the fairing was developed and various load cases were simulated. The attached structure experiences extreme sizing conditions because of operating conditions. The attached structure is sized to not only survive the extreme load conditions by itself, but also to not introduce unacceptable additional loads to the DC-8 fuselage. Structural stability and dynamics are also checked to ensure a safe flight.

DARcorporation engineers were also involved in the fabrication of the composite fairing for the installation. The fabrication and installation were based on the results from this finite element analysis.

The MCoRDS Antenna Assembly was successfully flown on the DC-8 for the flight test on September 11, 2009 and has been in service since then.

NASA: Operation IceBridge Flight Over the Antarctica Successful



Oliver VTOL Hexplane

DARcorporation engineers performed multiple studies on the design and analysis of the Oliver VTOL Hexplane related to weight, performance, RDT&E (Research, Development, Test and Evaluation) cost and ground effects. The six propellers are smaller than equally sized twin or quad VTOL concepts providing increased high speed propulsive efficiency and resulting in improved speed and range. Hexplane offers augmented safety as well by maintaining static stability following the failure of any one propulsion unit without the need for expensive and heavy emergency rated cross shafting.



NASA, University of Kansas P-3 MCoRDS Aerodynamic, Structural Analyses and Radar Fabrication/Installation

NASA WFF (Wallops Flight Facility), University of Kansas and DARcorporation cooperated on the design, simulation, fabrication and installation of P-3B/P-3 Orion radar integration: 15 MCoRDS radars as wing installations; Accumulation, Snow and Ku-band radars as bomb bay installations. The radar integration is in support to Operation IceBridge, which will enable scientists to survey the Earth's polar ice continuously during the gap after NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) stopped collecting science data in 2009 and before ICESat-2 is launched (planned for 2017).

DARcorporation engineers actively participated in this project by doing CAD design, aerodynamic trade studies, static and dynamic structural trade studies and fabrication. DARcorporation engineers analyzed 21 aerodynamic trade study cases and 12 static and dynamic structural trade study cases. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) cases were analyzed to check flow characteristics in the vicinity of the installation. A series of performance studies were also conducted to investigate the implications of the installation on drag and hence range and endurance. Turbulence and icing conditions are also inspected. Finite element models of the fairings were developed and various extreme load cases were simulated. The attached structure experiences extreme sizing conditions dictated by the extreme Greenland weather. The attached structure is sized to not only survive the extreme load conditions by itself, but also to not introduce unacceptable additional loads to the P-3B/P-3 Orion structure. Structural stability, dynamic modes and fatigue are also inspected to ensure safe flights.

DARcorporation engineers were also involved in the fabrication and installation of the composite/metal fairings. DARcorporation personnel constructed the 10 metal pylons that hold the radar installation, constructed the forward bomb bay internal structure and helped with installation at Wallops.

The installations successfully passed limit static load test and dynamic modal test on April 16, 2010, showing no structural failure or unfavorable resonances. The installations then were successfully flight tested on April 28, 2010 and have been in service ever since.

DARcorporation engineers were recognized by the NASA Group Achievement Award for their excellence in the engineering consulting services.

NASA Blog: Operation IceBridge

NASA's Operation IceBridge Begins New Arctic Campaign



Samson Motorworks Switchblade Mockup

DARcorporation engineers had just three weeks to design, build and deliver an engineering cut-away mockup of the Samson Motorworks Switchblade to Oshkosh Wisconsin for Air Venture 2009! The Switchblade mockup included a fully functional wing folding mechanism operated by electrical motors and controllers that determined the speed and direction of the folding wings. A working instrument panel controlled the wings and locking mechanisms.



Milner AirCar Conceptual and Preliminary Design with CFD Analysis on Fuselage Shape

DARcorporation is proud to be involved with the research, design and analysis the patented Milner AirCar will be a completely self-contained four-door, four to five-seat advanced-composite road-able aircraft (flying car) with foldable main wing and a canard. Conceptual and preliminary design was performed to size the wing, canard and empennage. Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) analysis was performed to help improve the streamlined fuselage shape.



Safire Aircraft

DARcorporation engineers did preliminary sizing, design verification, aerodynamic, stability and control support of a small business twin-engine jet, including wind tunnel testing and management for Safire Aircraft Company.



VisionAire Vantage Business Jet

DARcorporation performed a design verification and stability and control analysis for the VisionAire Vantage business jet.



Experimental Airplane DreamWings

DARcorporation engineers did CAD work on a twin-engine propeller all-composite experimental airplane for DreamWings. We did the design and stability and control analysis for one airplane with three different engines and design and stability and control analysis for an all composite two person kit airplane, with three different engines for DreamWings. Structural design and control system was designed for the Valkyrie composite experimental airplane, which included development of techniques to interface CAD with CAM to manufacture plugs and molds for DreamWings. Complete loads testing and analysis of a two-seat all composite ultralight/experimental airplane for DreamWings.



AEL Industries KC-135R Water Tunnel Test

DARcorporation conducted a water tunnel test on a modified KC-135R for AEL Industries (now BAE Systems). Check out this episode of the Smithsonian Channel's Mighty Planes to learn more about this airplane: Mighty Planes: Season 2: Episode 1.



LSA Nexaer LS1

DARcorporation was involved with the design and development support of a new LSA category composite airplane for Nexaer and performed a design review for the Nexaer LS1.



Business Jet Thermal Analysis on External Fuselage Locker

DARcorporation carried out the thermal analysis of an aft business jet fuselage locker for Raisbeck Engineering as part of an effort to meet the FAA FAR Part 25 certification requirements regarding safety in the event of a cargo fire.

Lear 60 business jet met FAR Part 25 certification requirements