Coupled aerostructural topology optimization using a level set method for 3D aircraft wings

Peter Dunning, Bret K. Stanford, H. Alicia Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this work is to develop a level set topology optimization method for an unstructured three-dimensional mesh and apply it to wing box design for coupled aerostructural considerations. The paper develops fast marching and upwind schemes suitable for unstructured meshes, which make the level set method robust and efficient. The method is applied to optimize a representative wing box internal structure for the NASA Common Research Model. The objective is to minimize the total compliance of the wing box. The trim condition that aerodynamic lift must balance the total weight of the aircraft is enforced by allowing the root angle of attack to change. The adjoint method is used to obtain the coupled shape sensitivities required to perform aerostructural optimization of the wing box. Optimum solutions for several aerodynamic and body force load cases, as well as a ground load case, are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1132
Number of pages20
JournalStructural and multidisciplinary optimization
Issue number5
Early online date28 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Bibliographical note

This work is funded by the Fixed Wing project under the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Fundamental Aeronautics Program. The authors would like to thank Dr. Maxwell Blair for his example DLM code and the Numerical Analysis Group at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory for their FORTRAN HSL packages (HSL, a collection of Fortran codes for large-scale scientific computation. See http://​www.​hsl.​rl.​ac.​uk/​).


  • level set method
  • 3D unstructured mesh
  • topology optimization
  • multi-disciplinary optimization
  • structural optimization
  • sensitivity
  • design
  • vehicles
  • FEM


Dive into the research topics of 'Coupled aerostructural topology optimization using a level set method for 3D aircraft wings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this