Future aircraft concepts and design methods

Robert A. Mcdonald, Brian J. German, T. Takahashi, C. Bil*, W. Anemaat, A. Chaput, R. Vos, N. Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


With an annual growth in travel demand of about 5% globally, managing the environmental impact is a challenge. In 2019, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) issued emission reduction targets, including well-to-wake greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduced at least 50% from 2005 levels by 2050. This discusses several technologies from an aircraft design perspective that can contribute to achieving these targets. One thing is certain: aircraft will look different in the future. The Transonic Truss-Braced Wing and Flying V configurations are promising significant efficiency improvements over conventional configurations. Electric propulsion, in various architectures, is becoming a feasible option for general aviation and commuter aircraft. It will be a growing field of aviation with zero-emissions flight and opportunities for special missions. Lastly, this paper discusses methods and design processes that include all relevant disciplines to ensure that the aircraft is optimised as a complete system. While empirical methods are essential for initial design, Multidisciplinary Design Optimisation (MDO) incorporates models and simulations integrated in an optimisation environment to capture critical trade-offs. Concurrent design places domain experts in one site to facilitate collaboration, interaction, and joint decision-making, and to ensure all disciplines are equally considered. It is supported by a Collaborative Design Facility (CDF), an information technology facility with connected hardware and software tools for design analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-124
Number of pages33
JournalAeronautical Journal
Issue number1295
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Aircraft configurations
  • Design methods
  • Electric propulsion
  • Emission reduction
  • Keywords:
  • Sustainability


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