Weight trades in the design of a composite wing box: Effect of various design choices

Gunther Moors, Christos Kassapoglou*, Sergio Frascino Müller de Almeida, Clovis Augusto Eça Ferreira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
223 Downloads (Pure)


A process to efficiently design composite wing boxes is presented. It uses analytical and semi-empirical equations for failure modes such as material strength, plate buckling, stiffener column buckling and stiffener flange or web crippling. Laminate layups for the different components are selected in accordance with basic engineering rules and guidelines and are updated as necessary to meet the local loads. The emphasis is in allowing buckling of skins at any fraction of the ultimate load and allowing local load redistribution from buckled to non-buckled panels to save weight. The design process is automated and the design can be automatically transferred over to a commercial finite-element code for detailed design and validation. The effects on weight of number of spars, ribs, and stiffeners as well as the fraction of ultimate load at which buckling is allowed are examined and insight is gained to which of these the weight is most sensitive to. In addition, the effect of minimum gage on weight was found to be a driver.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-417
Number of pages15
JournalCEAS Aeronautical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Aircraft design
  • Buckling
  • Composite structures
  • Composite wing-box design
  • Mass/weight estimation
  • Post-buckling
  • Skin buckling
  • Stiffener buckling
  • Trade studies


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