Constrained fitting for airfoil curvature smoothing (CFACS) is a spline-based method of interpolating airfoil surface coordinates (and, concomitantly, airfoil thicknesses) between specified discrete design points so as to obtain smoothing of surface-curvature profiles in addition to basic smoothing of surfaces. CFACS was developed in recognition of the fact that the performance of a transonic airfoil is directly related to both the curvature profile and the smoothness of the airfoil surface.
Older methods of interpolation of airfoil surfaces involve various compromises between smoothing of surfaces and exact fitting of surfaces to specified discrete design points. While some of the older methods take curvature profiles into account, they nevertheless sometimes yield unfavorable results, including curvature oscillations near end points and substantial deviations from desired leading-edge shapes.
In CFACS as in most of the older methods, one seeks a compromise between smoothing and exact fitting. Unlike in the older methods, the airfoil surface is modified as little as possible from its original specified form and, instead, is smoothed in such a way that the curvature profile becomes a smooth fit of the curvature profile of the original airfoil specification.
CFACS involves a combination of rigorous mathematical modeling and knowledge-based heuristics. Rigorous mathematical formulation provides assurance of removal of undesirable curvature oscillations with minimum modification of the airfoil geometry. Knowledge-based heuristics bridge the gap between theory and designers' best practices.
In CFACS, one of the measures of the deviation of an airfoil surface from smoothness is the sum of squares of the jumps in the third derivatives of a cubic-spline interpolation of the airfoil data. This measure is incorporated into a formulation for minimizing an overall deviation-from-smoothness measure of the airfoil data within a specified fitting error tolerance.
CFACS has been extensively tested on a number of supercritical airfoil data sets generated by inverse design and optimization computer programs. All of the smoothing results show that CFACS is able to generate unbiased smooth fits of curvature profiles, trading small modifications of geometry for increasing curvature smoothness by eliminating curvature oscillations and bumps (see figure).
This work was done by W. Li and S. Krist of Langley Research Center.