A380 Weight Reduction through Optimization

To the aerospace industry, the overall weight of an aircraft is a critical design requirement due to the impact just a few kilograms can have on fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions. Heavier aircraft use more fuel during flight which leads to increased running costs for the airline carriers. When designing the world’s largest passenger aircraft, the A380, Airbus wanted to ensure the design was as lightweight as possible while maintaining all performance standards.

Altair ProductDesign was selected to assist in the development of the A380 by helping to define and implement a new optimization process to remove mass from the aircraft’s leading edge droop nose wing ribs. To create a new, minimum mass design for the ribs, a two step design process was implemented. Firstly, a set of predefined stress and buckling loads from Airbus were brought into Altair’s own optimization technology, OptiStruct. Based on these loads and the design space available within the wing assembly, OptiStruct’s topology, sizing and shape optimization technologies automatically identified the ideal material layout for the ribs.

During the second phase, Altair ProductDesign engineers interpreted these topology results in order to develop a manufacturable structure. Each topology result of the 13 wing ribs was studied and a new, innovative material layout was created.

Through collaborative partnerships with Altair in the UK, the software was developed to produce an innovative rib design, which resulted in an optimized weight saving over 500kg per aircraft. Exceptional team working has been an essential component in ensuring the total integration of design, manufacturing and supply chain capabilities.