Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Director

Osama A. Kandil

Committee Member

Oktay Baysal

Committee Member

Robert L. Ash

Committee Member

Duc T. Nguyen


Automated, parallelized, time-efficient surface definition and grid generation and flow simulation methods are developed for sharp and accurate sonic boom signal computation in three dimensions in the near and mid-field of an aircraft using Euler/Full-Potential unstructured/structured computational fluid dynamics. The full-potential mid-field sonic boom prediction code is an accurate and efficient solver featuring automated grid generation, grid adaptation and shock fitting, and parallel processing. This program quickly marches the solution using a single nonlinear equation for large distances that cannot be covered with Euler solvers due to large memory and long computational time requirements. The solver takes into account variations in temperature and pressure with altitude. The far-field signal prediction is handled using the classical linear Thomas Waveform Parameter Method where the switching altitude from the nonlinear to linear prediction is determined by convergence of the ground signal pressure impulse value. This altitude is determined as r/L ≈ 10 from the source for a simple lifting wing, and r/L ≈ 40 for a real complex aircraft. Unstructured grid adaptation and shock fitting methodology developed for the near-field analysis employs an Hessian based anisotropic grid adaptation based on error equidistribution. A special field scalar is formulated to be used in the computation of the Hessian based error metric which enhances significantly the adaptation scheme for shocks. The entire cross-flow of a complex aircraft is resolved with high fidelity using only 500,000 grid nodes after only about 10 solution/adaptation cycles. Shock fitting is accomplished using Roe's Flux-Difference Splitting scheme which is an approximate Riemann type solver and by proper alignment of the cell faces with respect to shock surfaces. Simple to complex real aircraft geometries are handled with no user-interference required making the simulation methods suitable tools for product design. The simulation tools are used to optimize three geometries for sonic boom mitigation. The first is a simple axisymmetric shape to be used as a generic nose component, the second is a delta wing with lift, and the third is a real aircraft with nose and wing optimization. The objectives are to minimize the pressure impulse or the peak pressure in the sonic boom signal, while keeping the drag penalty under feasible limits. The design parameters for the meridian profile of the nose shape are the lengths and the half-cone angles of the linear segments that make up the profile. The design parameters for the lifting wing are the dihedral angle, angle of attack, non-linear span-wise twist and camber distribution. The test-bed aircraft is the modified F-5E aircraft built by Northrop Grumman, designated the Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstrator. This aircraft is fitted with an optimized axisymmetric nose, and the wings are optimized to demonstrate optimization for sonic boom mitigation for a real aircraft. The final results predict 42% reduction in bow shock strength, 17% reduction in peak Δp, 22% reduction in pressure impulse, 10% reduction in foot print size, 24% reduction in inviscid drag, and no loss in lift for the optimized aircraft. Optimization is carried out using response surface methodology, and the design matrices are determined using standard DoE techniques for quadratic response modeling.


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