Airframe noise is a significant component of environmental noise in the vicinity of airports. The noise associated with the leading-edge slat of typical transport aircraft is a prominent source of airframe noise. Previous work suggests that a slat-cove filler (SCF) may be an effective noise treatment. Hence, development and optimization of a practical slat-cove-filler structure is a priority. The objectives of this work are to optimize the design of a functioning SCF that incorporates superelastic shape memory alloy (SMA) materials as flexures that permit the deformations involved in the configuration change. The goal of the optimization is to minimize the actuation force needed to retract the slat-SCF assembly while satisfying constraints on the maximum SMA stress and on the SCF deflection under static aerodynamic pressure loads, while also satisfying the condition that the SCF self-deploy during slat extension. A finite element analysis model based on a physical bench-top model is created in Abaqus such that automated iterative analysis of the design could be performed. In order to achieve an optimized design, several design variables associated with the current SCF configuration are considered, such as the thicknesses of SMA flexures and the dimensions of various components, SMA and conventional. Design of experiment (DOE) studies are performed to investigate structural response to an aerodynamic pressure load and to slat retraction and deployment. DOE results are then used to inform the optimization process, which determines a design minimizing actuator forces while satisfying the required constraints.

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