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Durham e-Theses
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A Framework for Hyper-Heuristic Optimisation of Conceptual Aircraft Structural Designs

ALLEN, JONATHAN,GEORGE (2014) A Framework for Hyper-Heuristic Optimisation of Conceptual Aircraft Structural Designs. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Abstract

Conceptual aircraft structural design concerns the generation of an airframe that will provide sufficient strength under the loads encountered during the operation of the aircraft. In providing such strength, the airframe greatly contributes to the mass of the vehicle, where an excessively heavy design can penalise the performance and cost of the aircraft. Structural mass optimisation aims to minimise the airframe weight whilst maintaining adequate resistance to load. The traditional approach to such optimisation applies a single optimisation technique within a static process, which prevents adaptation of the optimisation process to react to changes in the problem. Hyper-heuristic optimisation is an evolving field of research wherein the optimisation process is evaluated and modified in an attempt to improve its performance, and thus the quality of solutions generated. Due to its relative infancy, hyper-heuristics have not been applied to the problem of aircraft structural design optimisation. It is the thesis of this research that hyper-heuristics can be employed within a framework to improve the quality of airframe designs generated without incurring additional computational cost.

A framework has been developed to perform hyper-heuristic structural optimisation of a conceptual aircraft design. Four aspects of hyper-heuristics are included within the framework to promote improved process performance and subsequent solution quality. These aspects select multiple optimisation techniques to apply to the problem, analyse the solution space neighbouring good designs and adapt the process based on its performance. The framework has been evaluated through its implementation as a purpose-built computational tool called AStrO. The results of this evaluation have shown that significantly lighter airframe designs can be generated using hyper-heuristics than are obtainable by traditional optimisation approaches. Moreover, this is possible without penalising airframe strength or necessarily increasing computational costs. Furthermore, improvements are possible over the existing aircraft designs currently in production and operation.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:aircraft conceptual design, aircraft structures, hyper-heuristic optimisation, optimisation framework, structural optimisation
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Science > Engineering and Computing Science, School of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 Sep 2014 09:55

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