Planning aircraft projects involves systematic approaches and efficient engineering solutions. They have vastly improved the output of aircraft in terms of safety, efficiency, longevity, and operational cost. In planning aircraft design, modern research work concentrates mainly on the relationship between optimization and the fundamental laws of aerodynamics. The ultimate success of any air vehicle depends on its ability to meet the challenges posed by its environment. Proper design and use of the most appropriate aerodynamic solutions are a prerequisite for aircraft success.
Planning aircraft also involves proper assessment of the aircraft’s suitability for a particular mission. The basic concept of aircraft is to carry out the required flight and avoid the risks of possible failures. To ensure the reliability of a planned aircraft, it is important to employ correct aircraft design software. A good software program will take into account the entire aircraft structure, take into account the required configuration data, optimize the solutions to each individual problem, and make the aircraft as a whole most suitable for the intended purpose.
Planning aircraft designs using the continuous adjoint method first proposed by Aviators Harry Wald and Arthur Baker in 1918 is considered an early model of the airplane. It involved the use of a discrete equation to solve the wing problem. An advantage of this method is that it can easily be solved using only basic algebra. Moreover, the solutions are well known and can be used in any situation.
Several discrete methods are currently being used by aircraft design software developers. Some of them include the discrete solution method where a set of alternatives is generated from the start using a finite sequence; the optimal set is then explored through the discrete optimization algorithm using the results of the previous step; the resulting set is used in the next and so on until the desired solution is obtained. The main drawback of this approach is that solutions may become stale after some time since the airplane will stop existing at some point.
On the other hand, the continuous adjoint method proposes an alternative solution where the set of possible solutions can be generated using an exponentially distributed function. The best solutions will be most likely to emerge when more than one of the solutions exists. This makes the best solutions of the entire sequences a continuous function and hence, generate fewer solutions which may become stagnant over time. A disadvantage of the continuous adjoint method is that it is currently limited to large-scale aircraft designs and can be efficiently applied for the analysis of complex aerodynamics.
Another emerging design method uses the finite difference method. In this method, the output of the discrete method can be evaluated on the basis of the output of the discrete optimization. This means that one can say that the quality of the output is directly proportional to the output of the discrete optimization. The main drawback of this method is that it has not been used widely enough for comparison with other methods. Even so, some research is still underway on this method.
Computers are increasingly playing a key role in the planning of aircraft design. Many software developers are developing computer software packages capable of efficient and accurate analysis of design data. These software programs can be used by design teams to analyze design data and suggest the most feasible solutions. The accuracy of these solutions is relative to the expertise of the designers and software applications.
Computers are also playing an important role in controlling the operation of air crafts. Some of the technologies in aircraft control systems allow for aircraft to be operated using a remote control. Air traffic control also includes sophisticated radars and sensors that allow for efficient surveillance of air fields. Given the growing importance of computers in the aircraft design and planning field, the future looks bright for these design experts.