U of I senior design teams take 1st and 3rd place
This year’s request for proposal from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Undergraduate Team Aircraft Design Competition was to address a growing problem in major commercial airports. As more people have access to commercial air travel, congestion increases. This results in delays, insufficient flights to meet demand, and passengers needing to fly to smaller satellite airports.
With this in mind, this year’s challenge was to design a high-capacity, short-range transport aircraft that could alleviate airport congestion, without the size and cost that comes with long-range capability. The aircraft would enter service in 2029 with a passenger capacity of 400 in a dual class configuration, and 3,500 nautical miles of range.
Team Mustang took 1st place with their final design presented as “Jay Jay the Jet Plane.” Its members included: Sejal Sahu, Jack Wu, Nicolas Alvarado, Charlie Rovin, Weizhuo Wang, Joshua Daniel, and Ben Baker.
Each member of Team Mustang had a major and minor assignment.
Sahu acted as team lead and looked at cost. Aerodynamics was Wu’s primary focus, with avionics second. Alvarado was responsible for structures and landing gear, with a minor emphasis on acoustics. Rovin’s primary area was mass properties, followed by configuration. Wang’s was in charge of performance. His second area was propulsion. Daniel focused on stability and control as well as loads and dynamics. Baker’s first priority was systems, with interior design and certification as his minor assignment.
The judges’ comments for Team Mustang included that the report was concise and well written. “The topics addressed are all pertinent and there is very little fluff. The language is concise, the requirements (both the request for proposal and regulations) appear to be well understood.”
In Team Mustang’s section on aerodynamics and wing selection, the report describes multiple methods to analyze the airfoil and wing. The team used historical data, a vortex lattice method, and Vehicle Sketchpad. Because of this, the team was able to narrow the airfoil selection down to SC-0412 and RAE-5215. Consequently, the team was then able to quickly move to the wing design conducting multiple trade studies before settling on the final design.
“Historical trends provided by Raymer in Chapter 4 of Aircraft Design : A Conceptual Approach suggest that a thickness to chord ratio of around 13 percent is appropriate for transonic aircraft, which makes the SC-0412 a more favorable pick than the RAE-5215. Although a thinner airfoil will minimize drag and especially wave drag, it hinders other systems such as fuel tank size, structural integrity, and high-lift system. Although the SC-0412 is lacking in terms of aerodynamic efficiency, it was a well-rounded airfoil. Thus it was chosen to be the airfoil that best met the necessary performance requirements of the JJJP.”
One judge picked up on this saying, “The numerous cross checks with alternate methods, historical trends, and similar aircraft are excellent and help guide the process and increase confidence in the design decisions.”
Lataif was the team’s leader. He was also responsible for configuration. Cichon managed concept of operations, propulsion, performance, and certification. Mann was in charge of mass properties with acoustics as his second area of emphasis. Moon’s areas of responsibility were structures, loads and dynamics and landing gear. Murali focused on aerodynamics, stability, and control, as well as interior design. And Emily Tokarski worked on systems, cost, and avionics.
The judges were extremely complimentary on a number of aspects of their design noting the research aspects of their work: “Fantastic research of freight data on flights between JFK/Heathrow”. They also commented on the quality of their stability and control analysis: “I think the way you sized the empennage shows a strong understanding. Great job not simply using the tail volume coefficients.” In addition, the judges for Team Dauntless made a special mention of their “Great understanding of broader impacts by pulling in COVID-19 impacts.”
In the section on pneumatic, de-icing, and environmental control systems, the team reported, “The air filters on the Argo are high efficiency, and are similar to filters used in hospital operating rooms, making them effective in removing not only bacteria, but also viruses and any other particles that might contaminate the cabin. Consumers have historically expressed concerns about possible health effects due to cabin air contamination, which is especially relevant in the COVID-19 era. Studies have shown, however, that people are no more likely to catch an infection on an aircraft than if they were travelling on other public transportation, attending a conference, or participating in any other similar activity that puts them in close contact with other individuals. Further, evidence from these studies did not establish a link between cabin air contamination and ill passenger health.”
The teams’ senior design instructor was Associate Professor Jason Merret. Teaching assistants for the course were Jorge Aranda (Grader Fall 2019), Emil Broemmelsiek (TA: Fall 2019 and Spring 2020), Georgi Hristov (TA: Spring 2020), and Rodra Hascaryo (TA: Spring 2020).
This was Merret’s second year as an instructor at Illinois, but he came to the job with over a decade of aircraft design experience from Gulfstream and taught at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from Illinois, which means he could empathize with the team as they worked on this intensive project.
One thing Merret didn’t experience as a senior at Illinois was completing the design process and lengthy report remotely.
“This was a challenging spring semester for all of us, which makes me especially proud of all of the teams in my class this year,” he said. “I always tell them that this class helps prepare them for a job in aircraft design because of all of the deadlines and hiccups that happen along the way. On top of all of that, these teams had to deal with a once-every-hundred-years pandemic, and yet they got it done and even outshone the competition. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Merret said this year’s competition included 33 student teams from eight countries, including: Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Italy, India, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.