An XML Aircraft Geometry Format


Purpose of XML-Files

The eXtensible Markup Language format (XML) is being used by many programs for almost all kind of data handling. In contrast to several other file formats, its main advantages are

I have defined an XML schema to represent the geometry of aircraft, which can be used to describe the geometry of multi winged aircraft configurations. It would be very helpful, if such a format would be implemented by most programs which handle wings. Wings can be main wings as well as tailplanes of all kinds.

Structure of an XML-File

Any  XML file is made up from tags similar to a HTML file. Tags are enclosed in pointed parentheses (<tag>). Each XML file must begin with the header tag:

<?xml version="1.0"?>

Tags must occur in pairs - opening and closing tags must be paired. In contrast to HTML the names of the remaining tags are not prescribed, but can be defined by the user. To be useful for data transfer, the names of the tags must be known to and data receiver. Therefore an XML scheme can be set up, which describes the tag names and their content.

The XML-Schema

As tags can be nested, it is possible to create an object oriented  representation of structured data quite well. For example an aircraft consists of multiple wings, which in turn can be composed of many trapezoidal wing segments. Each wing segment may be defined by dihedral and sweep angles and its length as well as its airfoil sections.

My XML configuration schema is named "configuration-schema" of course and is stored in an XML file "configuration-schema.xsd". Currently it only describes systems of trapezoidal wings. A complete structured description of the schema and all its elements can be found here.

Defining an XML-File based on the Configuration-Schema

The proposed configuration schema describes the geometry of wings only. A configuration  can be made up from an arbitrary number of wings. Each wing consists of a sequence of trapezoidal wing segments attached to each other. It is possible to model any wing shape, including winglets or box type structures. Currently, any special planforms like elliptical shapes must be defined by a sequence of trapezoidal elements. While it would be possible to extend the description to surfaces having curved leading and trailing edges, this would make the implementation of these features in all programs working with these data necessary.

An extension for fuselages has already been defined and tested, but is not included in the current release.

Last modification of this page: 14.03.04

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