PhD Studentship – Using Continuation Methods to Evaluate Worst-Case Manoeuvre and Gust loading scenarios



Faculty of Engineering

The project:  A PhD studentship within the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bristol is available, funded by the EPSRC and Airbus. The student will be based in the Faculty, with academic supervision by Prof. Jonathan Cooper and Dr Mark Lowenberg (Department of Aerospace Engineering) and Prof. Simon Neild (Mechanical Engineering).  This project is part of a larger research activity with Airbus, tackling related topics. 

The current practice of evaluating loads on aircraft across all possible scenarios is extremely time-consuming.  Aeroelastic loading is a nonlinear problem and, in order to successfully identify worst-case conditions, a very large number of cases covering the operating envelope are run. It is a requirement to determine worst-case loading conditions for several quantities (e.g. bending moments, shear forces, deflections) for each case; and the number of cases may amount to hundreds of thousands when accounting for all speed, altitude and mass cases, steady and accelerated flight, ground cases, fatigue, etc. Work in this area by the University, as part of the FFAST EU FP7 project, successfully considered the use of surrogate modelling and optimization techniques.

Numerical ‘continuation methods’ are efficient means of following branches of solutions to dynamical systems as parameters vary, e.g. to map out paths of steady state solutions in bifurcation analysis. The objective of the PhD is to determine the extent to which continuation methods can assist in reliably estimating worst-case loads in a computationally efficient manner. The system of equations to be solved would describe the aeroelastic behaviour and loading of an aircraft during steady or quasi-steady manoeuvres and gusts. 

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This approach is novel and challenging: standard approaches to determining worst-case loads cannot be implemented directly within a continuation algorithm. The research will benefit from complementary activities at Bristol, such as surrogate modelling, system identification, quantification of uncertainty in aeroelastic systems, and bifurcation analyses.

Strong interaction with Airbus will ensure access to realistic data/models; the candidate will be expected to spend up to three months on placements at Airbus in Bristol.

The project will start in October 2014 or another agreed date. Applications by 10th December 2013 are encouraged and will be given full attention.

Candidate requirements: Applicants should have or expect at least a high 2:1-level degree in a relevant engineering and/or mathematics degree, preferably at Masters level.

Funding: Studentship covers full UK/EU (EU applicants who have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to application) PhD tuition fees and a tax-free stipend at the current RCUK rate (£13,726 in 2013/14). An industrial top up of £3,000 is also offered. EU nationals resident in the EU may also apply and will qualify only for PhD tuition fees.

How to apply: Please make an online application at http://www.bris.ac.uk/pg-howtoapply. Please select Aerospace Engineering (PhD) on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form.

Contacts: To discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof. Jonathan Cooper ([email protected]), Dr Mark Lowenberg ([email protected]) or Prof. Simon Neild ([email protected]).

For general enquiries, please email: [email protected]

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