Although aerodynamic considerations dominate the concept finalisation of a new aircraft, structures and their material selection are an integral part of conceptual design Phase I of the project to generate the aircraft's geometric shape, bearing in mind the need to minimise weight and cost of production without sacrificing structural integrity and operate safely. The underlying workload of structural engineers is stressful, bridging the gap between aerodynamicists and production planners to make the product right the first time (see the Six‐Sigma approach to design – Chapter 20).
The essence of this chapter is to consider how the aircraft is to be constructed. That is, what materials should be used and how can they be assembled together to make the aircraft. This is very important because, even at this early stage in the design process, material and manufacturing considerations can significantly affect cost and weight, leading to a reconsideration of the initial concept. The core objective is to select material that gives superior strength‐to‐weight ratio at an affordable cost. Many decisions at this point can lock in cost and weight that is difficult to recover later in the design process.
This chapter covers: