RBF4AERO Project

The RBF4AERO project aims at developing the RBF4AERO Benchmark Technology, an integrated numerical platform and methodology to efficiently face the most demanding challenges of aircrafts design and optimization.

In order to fulfil this objective, the Project is planned for a period of 3 years (2013-2016), has a global cost of 3,467,421.40 € (2,399,977.00 € contribution) funded by the European Commission through FP7 work grant number 605396 and is led by D’Appolonia SpA. The contract type is Small or medium-scale focused research project and the Sub-programme area is AAT.2013.4-2.

The RBF4AERO makes use of existing excellence and experience in all concerned research areas. The Consortium is composed by 9 partners from 5 countries (Italy, Belgium, Greece, Slovenia and Turkey), of which 6 Industrial partners, 1 Research Establishments and 2 Universities.

Verification and testing

The RBF4AERO Benchmark Technology (WP2) brings into the aircraft engineering design novel numerical strategies and approaches introducing clear elements of innovation. As such, it needs to implement an accurate verification and testing effort in order to evaluate its capabilities and its actual applicability to the design optimization phase. In the RBF4AERO project, this objective will be achieved by pursuing two different pilot lines:

  1. verification of RBF4AERO optimization approach against documented low- and medium-size computational models (WP4);
  2. testing of RBF4AERO optimization performances against real case applications of industrial  use (WP5).

The background knowledge from End Users as well as experimental data available on literature and produced within the project (WP3) will be exploited for these evaluations.


The verification of RBF4AERO Benchmark Technology is the first step to demonstrate the effectiveness and reliability of the numerical optimization procedure. The verification activities will be accomplished by Project partners at their remote developing platforms.

In particular, the proposed numerical procedures will be tested on literature reference cases as well as on computational models already implemented by Consortium partners. In the verification task a first set of studies will be carried out concerning the following test cases:

  • 2D airfoil design;
  • 3D airfoil design;
  • DLR-F6;
  • Turbine blade cooling optimization;
  • Wing root-body blending on a glider;
  • Small aircraft underwing nacelle;
  • Aircraft propeller optimization.

The complementary scope of the verification activities is the effective support to the Benchmark Technology development through the use of its most advanced functionalities in view of characterizing its usability and helping in the bug tracking and fixing.



The testing of RBF4AERO Benchmark Technology aims at demonstrating the effectiveness and applicability of the methodology to the aircraft design and optimization analyses using computational models with a size suitable for industrial purpose.

The testing phase will be mainly performed by project’s End Users that are expected to operate on their own computational infrastructures through their CAE tools and carry out real test case applications.

Considering testing targets, the complexity of analysed models will be increased in relation to the multidisciplinary of the numerical investigations (aerodynamics, structure, thermal, acoustics, etc) as well as in the accuracy of such models.

Furthermore the performance of the Benchmark Technology in terms of time savings and results accuracy will be demonstrated.

Optimizations studies at the highest level of complexity will be carried out on well detailed 3D test case geometries. In particular, the following applications will be considered:

  • Payload Fairing;
  • Cooling optimization;
  • Mid-size business jet;
  • Subsonic vehicle winglet;
  • Turboprop engine exhaust system;
  • New small-size aircraft configuration optimization.

The obtained numerical results will support, and in turn will be supported by, the experimental testing activities. This comparative investigation will deal with three specific applications:

  • Low Pressure Turbine (LPT) stage optimization;
  • Optimization of a Contra-Rotating Open Rotor (CROR);
  • Turbine Internal Cooling (TIC).

In this context of the Project, experimental results will be compared with numerical results of the optimal morphed configuration and the numerical analyses will produce the optimal solution to be manufactured and tested.


Description of Work

The scientific and technological enhancements offered by the RBF4AERO techniques, that are completely innovative in the aeronautical environment, require a convincing verification process before entering the industrial practice.

For this reason, the Project work plan develops a robust industrial-based process divided into three principal tasks:



  1. Benchmark Technology Infrastructure Development

The novel methodological procedure for the computational-driven optimization proposed in the Project implies the development of an appropriate infrastructure to build up the optimization environment and enable the simulation of test cases of industrial relevance. The RBF4AERO Benchmark Technology Infrastructure is the integrated system properly designed to develop the RBF4AERO Benchmark Technology (optimization environment) and then to make the RBF4AERO process usable by the professional industrial user. Specifically, this system mainly addresses dedicated software (SW) items and necessary HW (platform).

  1. Benchmark Technology Verification

Preliminary verification of results accuracy will be achieved on published state of the art reference applications or on available industrial based cases. For these evaluations, both background knowledge and experimental data available in the literature as well as that produced within the project will be exploited. Verification against well documented geometries and proprietary models will be carried out for a set of preliminarily identified study cases.

  1. Benchmark Technology Numerical Testing

Successively, the optimization procedure on a set of real-world demanding industrial applications will be carried out and numerically validated by the Project End Users. Critical analysis of the numerical predictions of morphed configurations with respect to the baseline will be supported and complemented by experimental outputs provided within the Project for both external and internal aerodynamics cases. Finally, the effectiveness as well as the efficiency of the overall RBF4AERO optimization procedure is expected to be extensively characterized.

The overall RBF4AERO project work is distributed over 7 work packages (WP) for a total of 24 sub-tasks. The first 5 WP are concerned with technical issues, whereas WP6 and WP7 respectively deal with dissemination and exploitation, and Consortium management.


WP1 - End Users Requirements and Technical design Specifications

The purpose of WP1 is to elaborate the whole set of specifications documents for the development, testing, and verification of the proposed research project.

WP2 - Benchmark Technology Infrastructure Implementation

The principal scope of WP2 is the physical implementation of the RBF4AERO Benchmark Technology Infrastructure conceived to efficiently perform shape optimization analyses. This system, in detail, addresses specific software (SW) items which are demanded to be developed and integrated to satisfy the operational requirements of the Project.

WP3 - Experimental Tests Development

The WP3 mainly focuses on the setting-up and development of testing cases selected according to the significance degree addressed by the Project End Users. Testing cases will consider applications which are not fully characterized by published or in-house available data, with the purpose to produce experimental evidence to be compared in WP5 with numerical outputs of the optimal morphed configurations.

WP4 - Numerical Optimization Analyses on Reference Models

The aim of this WP is to develop a first set of computational studies mainly on the native developed infrastructure, in view of testing the effectiveness and reliability of the proposed optimization procedure on numerical models characterized by low- medium-size computational mesh models.

WP5 - Benchmark Technology Procedure Verification and Testing

In this second computational task, intensive trials will be performed on identified applications of industrial interest. Moreover, this task will prove the capability of the proposed approach in managing very large computation models, and, on the other hand, to quantify the morphing efficiency in terms of computing solution performance and morphing action.