Dr. Douglas Hunsaker, Utah State University

Analytic Methods and Solutions for the Design of Morphing Aircrafts
November 18, 2022


In an effort to reduce drag, fuel burn, and emissions, morphing aircraft are currently being studied or developed by several notable organizations including NASA, AFRL, ONR, and industry. Traditional aircraft are commonly optimized for a cruise condition. When the aircraft is operating in off-design conditions, drag penalties are incurred. Morphing aircraft could potentially operate continuously in optimal configurations by changing wing parameters such as camber, twist, sweep, or planform throughout the flight envelope in order to maximize performance at each operating condition. Although much of the modern efforts to study this problem use computational or experimental methods, much can be learned by studying the analytical relationships between aircraft geometric parameters and performance. The present work will outline methods and solutions based on analytic relationships that come from fundamental aerodynamic theories, which can be used to better understand the potential benefits of morphing aircraft. The design, development, and flight testing of a sample morphing aircraft will be discussed.


Dr. Douglas Hunsaker

Associate Professor at Utah State University. His research focuses on analytic and low-order design methods for subsonic, supersonic, and hypersonic vehicles. His work has been sponsored by AFRL, ONR, and NASA. Prior to joining the faculty at USU, Doug worked for Scaled Composites on the SpaceShipTwo and Stratolaunch programs. He has consulted for various drone companies including Facebook, Vayu, and others.