Ph.D. Proposal: Jiajie (Terry) Wen

Mon Oct 11 2021 11:00 AM
"An Integrated Framework for Evaluating Commercial Supersonic Aircraft Design Trade-Offs Using Operations and Network Analyses"

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Ph.D. Proposal


Jiajie (Terry) Wen

(Advisor: Prof. Dimitri N. Mavris)


"An Integrated Framework for Evaluating Commercial Supersonic Aircraft Design Trade-Offs
Using Operations and Network Analyses"


Monday, October 11
11:00 a.m.

Meeting URL:
Meeting ID: 906 058 675    Participant Passcode: 9524


Since the Concorde performed its final flight in 2003, the world might finally see a new commercial supersonic transport (SST) by the end of the decade. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the commercial aviation industry, an SST could allow operators to offer unique services and differentiate themselves from competitors when the industry recovers.

A civil supersonic aircraft can greatly boost the productivity of onboard passengers by significantly reducing trip time. However, this comes at a cost of additional fuel consumption and en-route noise generated in the form of sonic boom. Most countries currently prohibit supersonic overland flight, and such restriction is unlikely to be lifted for a large commercial supersonic aircraft. By analyzing the performance characteristics of SSTs, as well as the commercial aviation flight network and market demand, it becomes obvious that SSTs should be regarded as specialty products.

Traditional aircraft design is driven by a fixed set of design requirements. These requirements are imposed during aircraft sizing in the conceptual design stage, and followed by appropriate network and operations analyses. The relatively limited use cases of an SST mean that network-level analysis can be very useful for informing the definition of design requirements (such as supersonic cruise Mach number, design range, and passenger capacity).

This thesis attempts to address the lack of feedback between SST design requirement definition and its network as well as operations. The research will consist of three main steps:

  • Improving the current supersonic flight routing capability (based on rasterized search algorithm) by including aircraft mission analysis and sonic boom carpet estimation. Mission analysis ensures the aircraft can complete the planned trajectory (that could have detours and multiple transonic accelerations). Ray-tracing calculations is performed using real-world atmospheric data taken during a one-year period. The results will be used to construct a boom carpet database that accounts for the effect of atmospheric variations using statistical analyses. The flight routing tool will then use this database to ensure that the sonic boom does not reach land under most circumstances.
  • Creating a network simplification technique that simplifies a forecasted supersonic flight network while retaining its underlying structure. The algorithm’s objective is to construct representative flights that minimize the difference in great circle distance distribution of the simplified network to that of the original network. This will allow network-level sensitivity analyses to be performed efficiently.
  • Using the flight routing tool and network simplification algorithm to evaluate a family of SSTs with different design requirements (Mach number, supersonic range, and seating capacity) in a simplified network. The impact of operational parameters (such as overland cruise Mach number) will also be evaluated. Network-level metrics include (but are not limited to): fuel burn, CO2 emission, NOx emission, trip time, detour distance, and network coverage.


  • Prof. Dimitri N. Mavris – School of Aerospace Engineering (advisor)
  • Prof. Lakshmi N. Sankar – School of Aerospace Engineering
  • Prof. Daniel P. Schrage – School of Aerospace Engineering
  • Dr. J. Holger Pfaender – School of Aerospace Engineering
  • Dr. Sriram Rallabhandi – NASA Langley Research Center