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Oct 5, 2011

Some Aircraft Design Tools

Just did some Google search for "neutral point" calculation and found a list of sofrtware tools. So I'll open here a new page and reprint the list of aircraft design software for those it might be of some interest. We have to remember that there is actually no such thing as **free** software due to the fact that you have to learn to use it and fix all the problems associated with it's use etc.

The software list was originally in "IBIS RJ.03 CANARD EXPERIMENTAL HOMEBUILT AIRPLANE PROJECT's Software Links" which might also be an interesting project for somebody to read:

RJ.03 IBIS "The French Canard" homebuilt aircraft project. Building a wooden two-seater RJ.03 IBIS experimental airplane.

And here is the list again (remember that any software can have errors and bugs in it and you can never be 99.9% sure that the results are useful for you).


The CEASIOM application is a free Conceptual Aircraft design tool on MATLAB. It was developed within the frame of the SimSAC (Simulating Aircraft Stability And Control Characteristics for Use in Conceptual Design) Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP) approved for funding by the European Commission 6th Framework Programme on Research, Technological Development and Demonstration.

CEASIOM runs under either Windows or Linux, and its only requires a MATLAB® license.


XFOIL is an interactive program for the design and analysis of subsonic isolated single-segment airfoils. It was written at MIT by professor Mark Drela.

XFLR5 Airfoil and Wing analysis tool

XFLR5 uses XFOIL as its computation kernel and adds a graphical user interface for Windows operating systems. You still need the XFOIL manual to find your way around. XFLR5 also offers a 3D wing design capability, using two different calculation schems. The one similar to MIAReX (described further down below) uses the built in XFOIL kernel to determine local wing section properties. Highly recommended!

AVL - Athena Vortice Lattice Method

Yet another design program by professor Mark Drela and Harald Youngren. AVL is an extended vortice lattice method (VLM) software that supports aircraft configuration development by offering aerodynamic analysis, trim calculation and dynamic stability analysis, among other things.


A calculation method for Xfoil and multi-airfoil wings, based on formulae developed by James C. Sivells & Robert H. Neely in NACA TN-1269 (1947). Basically it takes 2D wing section data and integrates the various 2D section properties across the span to arrive at a 'semi-3D' solution.

TORNADO Vortex Lattice Method

A Vortex Lattice Method (VLM) implemented in MATLAB. The code is intended for linear aerodynamic wing design applications, in conceptual aircraft design or in aeronautical education. Among other things it can do such nice things as computing and displaying the Treffz plane velocity vector field. Known Cessna C-172 data was used to validate the code agains other codes such as AVL, VIRGIT and CMARC.

CalculiX A Free Software Three-Dimensional Structural Finite Element Program.

With CalculiX Finite Element Models can be build, calculated and post-processed. The pre- and post-processor is an interactive 3D-tool using the openGL API. The solver is able to do linear and non-linear calculations. Static, dynamic and thermal solutions are available. Both programs can be used independently.


Elmer is an open-source computational tool for multi-physics problems (FEA/FEM/CFD). It has been developed in collaboration with Finnish universities, research laboratories and industry. Elmer includes physical models of fluid dynamics, structural mechanics, electromagnetics, heat transfer and acoustics.

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