The inherent residual stresses in the raw materials of large monolithic structural components whereby machining procedures are needed to produce aircraft components, cause deviations, and distortions that are undesired and rise challenges for engineering design and engineering production teams of the aerospace companies. A numerical approach to address part distortion is proposed in this paper. An algorithm was developed and implemented as a finite element subroutine in the software ANSYS APDL, which uses the raw inherent residual stress parameters of the aluminum alloy and the machining locations of a structural specimen to simulate the machining distortion phenomenon in aircraft aluminum structures. This algorithm uses as inputs the finite element mesh of a component, the coefficients of residual stresses functions, and the machining location parameters from where a part is made of a raw material blank. The numerical results predicted the part distortion phenomenon with an Absolute Error of 2.79% with respect to initial experimental measurements of part distortion. Additionally, the proposed approach was used to develop part distortion curves by considering the machining location of the specimen. From these, numerical optimization techniques led to determine the machining location of the representative specimen that attained lower distortions. Such location corresponded to a vertical value around of 3.15 mm for the two simulated residual stresses conditions in the material. An additional measurement was carried out to validate the optimal numerical results and errors below 3% were obtained. Consequently, the proposed approach can be of use to determine, to reduce and to optimize part distortion without further experimental testing in structural aluminum 7050-T7451 alloy aircraft components.

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