Using Computer Programming To Improve Viscount Designs

computer modelingOne of the great aspects of being contemporary historians in the field of mechanical engineering is that we frequently get to take a look back and consider how certain designs, such as those of the Viscount, could have been improved had its makers had access to computer technology and modern day programming techniques.

To flesh out this thought experiment, we actually took to the ground and simulated a few working models of the aircraft and identified different areas where technical design flaws may have been present due to a lack of technical understanding.

Here’s what we found.

The Experiment

To write a computer simulated model of the Viscount 35 and begin to disassemble the plane using software. Through this software, identify elements that could have been improved in the design, using only the technological materials available during its era.

The design of the software was implemented in Ruby on Rails. Learn more about writing software with Ruby at Coding Rookie, or check out a free course from CodeSchool.com.

The Results

The results were pretty incredible.

What we found was that the key elements that could have been improved were all due to minor optimizations of the craft.

For instance, by adjusting the forward wing crew line by approximately 1/8th of an inch on each side, the plane would have had better lift, and required 8% less fuel, which also would have enabled the craft to fly longer distances or reach its destination faster, depending on the implementation chosen.

Similarly, tilt of the tail wing by a 0.08 degree shift towards starboard would have resulted in a more balanced flight across the entire aircraft, again increasing flight efficiency.

All in all, we identified about 20 of these minor optimizations. In each case, the shift was a relatively minor one, and would have involved no major updates to the craft design. That is to say, there’s no question that even if one were to implement every single one of the optimizations, the overall design of the plane would not have changed, and it would still invariably be a Viscount 35.

What a fun exercise and incredible lesson we can learn from it! We hope you’ve enjoyed this tidbit and look forward to providing more in the future! If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, we recommend you check out this article on aircraft performance improvements.