SCOUT Aircraft Design
Updated: Aug 30
Course: ME423 Aircraft Engineering with Prof. Haverkamp
Purpose: Design a long-range passenger aircraft that can also carry a 20-ton ultraviolet telescope for astronomical observations, with the aim of replacing the soon-to-be-retired Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) mission aircraft, reducing maintenance and operation costs, and providing a more cost-effective and spacious platform for space exploration and scientific research.
Key skills used:
Class-1 weight estimations
Payload range diagram analysis
Aircraft design to meet FAR 25 guidelines using Solidworks
Aerodynamics and propulsion
Aircraft stability and flight performance analysis using MATLAB
The SCOUT aircraft design is a result of careful analysis and planning to meet the needs of space exploration research. It was specifically designed to carry a large ultraviolet telescope for astronomical observations while also carrying 40 passengers in a two-class configuration. The goal of the SCOUT design is to replace the costly retrofit design of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
To achieve this goal, the SCOUT was designed to meet the guidelines set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration in FAR 25 for passenger aircraft. It was also designed to accommodate a large payload of up to 28 tons for long-haul flights with a maximum take-off weight of approximately 187 tons. The SCOUT was designed with a basic 30° swept wing planform with two under-wing podded engines, one Rolls-Royce Trent XWB turbofan on each side, and a conventional tail configuration. These design elements allow the SCOUT to have a harmonic range of 4500 nmi, a range with a maximum fuel capacity of 6000 nmi, and a ferry range of approximately 7500 nmi (noted in figure below).
The SCOUT aircraft design also addresses the issue of maintenance costs, which was a significant problem for the SOFIA aircraft. The SCOUT design allows for more passengers and instrumentation on board, reducing the need for constant cycling of instrumentation and resulting in reduced maintenance costs. The design also allows for more researchers to be on board, increasing the research capabilities of the aircraft.
Overall, the SCOUT aircraft design is a significant improvement over previous space exploration aircraft designs. It was designed to meet the specific needs of space exploration research, including the ability to conduct nighttime flights to observe celestial events in unique locations that are not accessible by ground-level telescopes or orbiting telescopes. The SCOUT design provides a cost-effective and efficient option for future space exploration research, and it has the potential to make significant contributions to scientific discovery in the field of astronomy.