Parametric optimisation of manufacturing tolerances at the aircraft surface

A. Kundu, John Watterson, Srinivasan Raghunathan, R. McFadden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Up until now, aircraft surface smoothness requirements have been aerodynamically driven with tighter manufacturing tolerance to minimize drag, that is, the tighter the tolerance, the higher is the assembly cost in the process of manufacture. In the current status of commercial transport aircraft operation, it can be seen that the unit cost contributes to the aircraft direct operating cost considerably more than the contribution made by the cost of block fuel consumed for the mission profile. The need for a customer-driven design strategy to reduce direct operating cost by reducing aircraft cost through manufacturing tolerance relaxation at the wetted surface without unduly penalizing parasite drag is investigated. To investigate this, a preliminary study has been conducted at 11 key manufacturing features on the surface assembly of an isolated nacelle. In spite of differences in parts design and manufacture, the investigated areas associated with the assembly of nacelles are typical of generic patterns in the assembly of other components of aircraft. The study is to be followed up by similar studies extended to lifting surfaces and fuselage
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-279
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Aircraft
Volume39 (2)
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002


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