Wing aerodynamic optimization using efficient mathematically-extracted modal design variables

Christian B. Allen*, Daniel J. Poole, Thomas C.S. Rendall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
329 Downloads (Pure)


Aerodynamic shape optimization of a transonic wing using mathematically extracted modal design variables is presented. A novel approach is used for deriving design variables using a singular value decomposition of a set of training aerofoils to obtain an efficient, reduced set of orthogonal ‘modes’ that represent typical aerodynamic design parameters. These design parameters have previously been tested on geometric shape recovery problems and aerodynamic shape optimization in two dimensions, and shown to be efficient at covering a large portion of the design space, hence the work is extended here to consider their use in three dimensions. Wing shape optimization in transonic flow is performed using an upwind flow-solver and parallel gradient-based optimizer, and a small number of global deformation modes are compared to a section-based local application of these modes and to a previously-used section-based domain element approach to deformations. An effective geometric deformation
localization method is also presented, to ensure global modes can be reconstructed exactly by superposition of local modes. The modal approach is shown to be particularly efficient, with improved convergence over the domain element method, and only 10 modal design variables result in a 28% drag reduction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-477
Number of pages25
JournalOptimization and Engineering
Issue number2
Early online date1 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Aerodynamics
  • Constrained numerical optimization
  • Drag minimization
  • Orthogonal modal design variables
  • Radial basis functions
  • Shape parameterization
  • Volume mesh deformation

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