A very good way of creating sophisticated geometry quickly is through the OpenNURBS library, via the easy to use, elegant front end provided by Rhinoceros. This powerful geometry generator allows you to access OpenNURBS functionality via Python code. Much of the Python code accompanying the book was designed to run in Rhinoceros in this way.
These Rhino/Python codes are included in a package named AirCONICS (Aircraft CONfiguration through Integrated Cross-disciplinary Scripting), an aircraft geometry toolbox built upon the principles described in the book. In order to run the Rhino/Python codes referred to in the book (and much more), follow these steps to install AirCONICS and verify your installation:
1. Install a copy of Rhinoceros. There are versions for MacOS and Windows. The functionality required for scripting is free, though you will have to get a license for saving models after the trial period.
2. Download AirCONICS – simply unpack the zip file onto your local hard drive.
3. Start Rhinoceros. In Windows, at its command line enter
EditPythonScript. This will open the Python development environment included with Rhinoceros. In MacOS, first you may need to install IronPython, then you will need to use an external development environment or editor, such as PyCharm (EditPythonScript is not implemented in the MacOS version yet).
4. Open the file called
airconics_setup.py and edit the values of the variables according to your installation.
5. You are now ready to run the example scripts. For example, to run
airfoil_example_SeligCoord.py, open it in the editor. If you are running Rhino for Windows, press F5 [Start Debugging], or press the green triangle button to run it. You should see the airfoil geometry appear in the Rhino window (you may need to ‘Zoom Extents’ to make sure that the geometry fills your viewports). If you are running Rhino for Mac, use the
RunPythonScript command to launch the example script.
[Note: if you are calling a routine in an another file and you edit that file, make sure you reset the Rhino script engine first – otherwise the interpreter will run the old, cached version of all routines that are not in the main script.]
You could also have a play with the
transonic_airliner.py script – it calls the parametric airliner method, which can build geometries similar to that of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner shown below.
To gain further insight into ways in which you could use AirCONICS in a conceptual design process, you may wish to flick through this presentation from the AIAA SciTech 2015 conference (Orlando, FL, January 2015), or its companion paper.
Any issues installing or using the code – do get in touch with András Sóbester at the University of Southampton (the email address is included in the header of each file of the code – or, if you use Twitter, via @ASobester). We would also welcome news of any models, interesting applications, etc. you used it for!
And finally, a request. AirCONICS is based on the principles described in the following publications – we would appreciate it if you cited these in any scholarly work reporting on any use of the code:
 Sóbester, A., Forrester, A. I. J., “Aircraft Aerodynamic Design – Geometry and Optimization”, Wiley, 2015.