Optimizing The MRJ’s Aerodynamics Through Advanced Design

Posted by Shigeru Obayashi on Sep 18, 2017 10:00:00 PM

As new government regulations call for more environmentally friendly aircraft, aerodynamics will play a key role in how airlines build their fleets for the future. Powered by its advanced aerodynamic design, the MRJ’s best-in-class fuel efficiency and lower emissions make it fit for the future.

Those aerodynamics are the result of rigorous design work and development of Multi-Objective Design Exploration (MODE). Developed through collaborative research between Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation and Japan’s Tohoku University, MODE is an experimental design method that played a key role in the MRJ’s development. With MODE, we could visualize the MRJ from a bird’s-eye view and allow designers to make tradeoffs, helping to optimize its performance.

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Specifically, MODE influenced the design of MRJ’s low-drag wing and its lightweight composite structures that helped reduce the aircraft's environmental impact. To accurately measure the effects of these design elements, engineers and researchers at Tohoku used MODE to assess everything at once: comparing the functions of the wing—such as minimizing drag during cruising conditions—and its design variables against its constraints, like its specified thickness and flutter to understand how to optimize the design. 

In the figure above, MODE helped identify an instance where drag could be reduced due to alleviating the shock wave between the wing and nacelle of the engine—ultimately leading to more fuel savings. Thanks to this innovative design work, The MRJ will offer 10-20% lower fuel efficiency and Coemissions, as well as a 30-40% smaller noise footprint than other aircraft in its class. 

Shigeru Obayashi serves as the Director of the Institute of Fluid Science at Tohoku University. His research on computational fluid dynamics and multidisciplinary design optimization played a key role in developing the MRJ’s aerodynamics.

Topics: Craftsmanship, Design