Assessment of Future Airframe and Propulsion Technologies on Sustainability of Next-Generation Mid-Range Aircraft
The present work demonstrates the impact of future airframe and propulsion technologies on the sustainability of potential future medium-range commercial jets with design specifications similar to the Airbus A320-200. Advanced airframe and engine technologies include laminar flow control (LFC), active load alleviation, new materials and structures, and ultra-high bypass ratio turbofan engines. Two aircraft configurations with various design options were compared to determine potentially the best option for the mission profile, which tends to minimize the environmental impact. Each configuration was designed to balance the equivalent CO2 emissions and Direct Operating Costs. Technology sensitivity analyses were performed to investigate the significance of particular technology combinations and determine the ones that improve aircraft sustainability the most. All studies were performed at a conceptual design level using a multi-fidelity design approach to investigate the system-level effects of the technologies. The open-source aircraft design environment SUAVE was extended and integrated with other aircraft design and analysis tools to obtain all required correlations. The aircraft with advanced technologies showed an average reduction in equivalent CO2 emissions of 36% and a 23% reduction in DOC compared to the reference aircraft for a similar mission profile, although aircraft with future technologies may have a 43% higher production cost. The given results indicate that the application of technologies may be commercially successful if technologies achieve expected performance values, despite high development costs. Finally, the technology sensitivity analysis demonstrated the most significant influence of engine-related technologies and laminar flow control compared to other technologies considered in this research. Depending on design and integration complexities, engine technologies can be more achievable in the near future and can substantially reduce the overall emission level.