3749. One Fits All? A Comparison of Weight Estimation Methods for Preliminary Aircraft Design


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Arthur Kluender, Andreas Gobbin: 3749. One Fits All? A Comparison of Weight Estimation Methods for Preliminary Aircraft Design. 2020.



Is there any compelling way to precisely determine the major masses of an aircraft in preliminary design stages? If so, do the results match the real airplane weight properties, when it is built? This paper presents a comprehensive overview of commonly used approaches, highlighting their individual (dis)advantages and eligibility for typical transport missions. The study evaluates widely used, of-the-book-methods for weight estimation and searches for the most accurate approach among them. Each method is applied to determine the masses of four different aircraft, each of them representing a typical aircraft category. The results are put in relation to the real masses, extracted from the corresponding manufacturers manual. In addition, an extended and modified method, already existing and being used at the Department for Aircraft Design and Lightweight Structures at the Technical University of Berlin, is included in the study and tested for its reliability. The overall objective of this paper is to evaluate, whether there is a method that precisely calculates all relevant masses or else, which one delivers the most accurate results for various aircraft types. In order to differentiate even further, the set of required input parameters is considered. In early design phases, typically only a few of those are known. Hence, a method that leads to accurate results with minimal input is favorable for preliminary design. The study indicates that none of the methods covers all the aircraft types. However, tendencies show that some approaches suit certain aircraft types better than others. Most of them provide satisfactory results for an average, jet-engine propelled, single aisle, medium range aircraft in conventional twinjet configuration. Regarding more unusual configurations, for example with turboprop engines, the outcome differs noticeably. Also, for long range aircraft, only a few methods produce realistic numbers. According to this exploration, guidelines on when to use which method are provided. This is followed by an outlook, giving recommendations on the development of new methods. Ultimately, a suggestion on how to consider new technologies and implement them into existing methods of weight estimation is given.


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