Honors College Thesis


Light-Airplane Wing Structural Analysis and Material Selection Public Deposited

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  • The goal of this thesis is to explore the possibility of an upgrade of materials used in the wing-structure of a high-performance light aircraft operating under severe aerodynamic and inertial loads. The case aircraft considered in the thesis is the Caproni A-21 SJ, an all-metal high-performance motorglider powered by two Microturbo turbojets. The wing structure, used as a reference for wing geometry and loads, is simplified to the main spar or wing-box for analysis. Base wing is analyzed applying 7075 aluminum. Alternative new designs are based on carbon-epoxy and fiberglass-epoxy composite components. Sample structures will be designed and analyzed using a custom computer code. Additionally, the use of external truss-braced wing will be investigated for potential to decrease of wing’s mass structure. The weight of the aluminum alloy spar resided between the carbon-epoxy and fiberglass-epoxy spars for both cross sections of the cantilever wing, with the carbon-epoxy being about 35% lighter than the aluminum and the fiberglass-epoxy slightly heavier. The aluminum alloy was the heaviest in the strut-supported I-beam case where the flange thickness drove the weight of the spar and the lightest in the strut-supported box-beam case where the composite materials were constrained to their laminate thicknesses.
  • Key Words: Aircraft, Glider, Composite, Structures
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