Aerofoil Design for Unmanned High-Altitude Aft-Swept Flying Wings

Ahmad Abdulkarim Alsahlani, Thurai Rahulan


In this paper, 12 new aerofoils with varying thicknesses for an aft-swept flying wing unmanned air vehicle have been designed using a MATLAB tool which has been developed in-house. The tool consists of 2 parts in addition to the aerodynamic solver XFOIL. The first part generates the aerofoil section geometry using a combination of PARSEC and Bezier-curve parameterisation functions. PARSEC parametrisation has been used to represent the camber line while the Bezier-curve has been used to select the thickness distribution. This combination is quite efficient in using an optimisation search process because of the capability to define a range of design variables that can quickly generate a suitable aerofoil. The second part contains the optimisation code using a genetic algorithm. The primary target here was to design a number of aerofoils with low pitching moment, suitable for an aft-swept flying wing configuration operating at low Reynolds number in the range of about 0.5 × 106. Three optimisation targets were set to achieve maximum aerodynamic performance characteristics. Each individual target was run separately to design several aerofoils of different thicknesses that meet the target criteria. According to the set of result obtained so far, the initial observation of the aerodynamic performance of the newly designed aerofoils is that the lift/drag ratio in general is higher than that of the existing ones used in many current-generation highaltitude long-endurance aircraft. Another observation is that increasing the maximum thickness of the aerofoil leads to a decrease in the maximum lift/drag ratio. In addition, as expected, this ratio sharply drops after the maximum value of some of these aerofoils.


Aerofoil design; Low Re; Swept flying wing

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