Delegates having lunch at the conference.

The 4th Aircraft Structural Design Conference (ASDC) was hosted by Queen’s University Belfast from 7 – 9 October 2014.  The conference was addressed by three keynote speakers.  Gavin Campbell, Director of Design Engineering and Technology at Bombardier, described the future developments in design concepts expected in medium and long-term time frames and how new working partnerships involving industry, government and universities will focus on innovation.  Torsten Brama, Technology Fellow Saab Aeronautics, showed how Saab has incorporated optimization tools into the company’s aircraft structural design process. Finally, Constantinos Soutis, Director of the Manchester Aerospace Research Institute, reviewed the current situation in understanding failure events in CFRP materials and ways for avoiding them.

Delegates at the drinks reception held in Queen's University's Great Hall.

The keynotes were followed by 55 presented papers which had all been fully reviewed against standard journal acceptance criteria.  These coved the full range of topics relevant to the design and entry into service of modern aircraft, both fixed and rotating wing: aircraft loads, analysis methods, multi-disciplinary design and optimization (MDO), structural design, morphing, composite materials, and manufacture. A number of themes emerged during the presentation and discussion of these papers.  

In the case of MDO it was recognized that simply matching a set of complex design tools to a complex design problem was not sufficient in order to obtain quality results.  It is also necessary match the design team to the tool set being assembled to ensure the right skill set is present and the right training programmes are available, embedding the team into the total design process.  

For structural analysis some consideration was given to coping with problems arising when high fidelity finite element models don’t produce predictions of structural behaviour that adequately matched the behaviour of the in-service structure.  This highlighted the need for the analysis community to devise procedures that allow an adequate prediction of such variations to support the case for more reliance on computational analysis for aircraft certification.  An issue that will be considered in a forthcoming Royal Aeronautical Society one-day event devoted to certification.

Although the CFRP papers presented in this conference closely followed those of the third conference, highlighting the use of various forms of TOW for composite manufacture; there was change of emphasis for this conference.  The focus moved towards linking analysis methods to the manufacturing process to achieved better manufactured products.

The Conference dinner was held in the Titanic Belfast Museum after which a talk, entitled ‘Aspects of Aircraft and Aerospace Manufacture in Northern Ireland’, was given by Guy Warner.


Delegates at the conference dinner & Guy Warner giving his after dinner lecture.

Technical visits to Bombardier, Thales and the Northern Ireland Advanced Composites & Engineering Centre were fully ‘sold out’ to conference attendees who reported that the tours were of high interest. The conference organisers wish to thank the organisations involved for their support. 

Delegates on the Bombardier technical tour.

As with the previous three ASDCs there was no spectacular Eureka moment; instead the fourth conference continued to demonstrate the steady increase in methods capability and in the understanding of the processes and properties underpinning the progress towards improved aircraft designs.

The 5th Aircraft Structural Design Conference will be hosted by Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), part of the Universidade de Lisboa (University of Lisbon) in October 2016.

This report was written by Alan Morris FRAeS, Chairman of the International Organising Committee for the 4th Aircraft Structural Design Conference.

Conference and Events Department
16 October 2014