An adaptive compliant wing designed by FlexSys Inc. features a variable-camber trailing edge which can be deflected up to ±10°, thus acting like a flap-equipped wing, but without the individual segments and gaps typical in a flap system. The wing itself can be twisted up to 1° per foot of span. The wing's shape can be changed at a rate of 30° per second, which is ideal for gust load alleviation. The development of the adaptive compliant wing is being sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Initially, the wing was tested in a wind tunnel, and then a 50-inch (1.3 m) section of wing was flight tested on board the Scaled Composites White Knight research aircraft in a seven-flight, 20-hour program operated from the Mojave Spaceport. Control methods are proposed.
The EU-funded Flexop program aims to develop to enable higher wing aspect ratio for less induced drag with lighter, more flexible airliner wings, along developing active flutter suppression for flexible wings. Partners include Hungary's MTA SZTAKI, Airbus, Austria's FACC, Inasco of Greece, Delft University of Technology, German aerospace center DLR, TUM, the UK's University of Bristol and RWTH Aachen University in Germany.
On 19 November 2019, a 7 m (23 ft) span jet-powered UAV demonstrator with an aeroelastically tailored wing for passive load alleviation was flown in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, previously flown with a carbon-fiber, rigid wing to establish baseline performance. It has a conventional tube-and-wing configuration, unlike the blended wing body of the Lockheed Martin X-56. It follows the Grumman X-29 demonstrator in 1984, with more refined fiber orientations. The flexible wing is 4% lighter than the rigid one. The 54-month, EUR6.67 million ($7.4 million) project ends in November 2019, followed by the EUR3.85 million FLiPASED program from September 2019 until December 2022, using all the movable surfaces.
The glass fiber flutter wing should to be flown in 2020, with unstable aeroelastic modes under 55 m/s (107 kn) that must be actively suppressed. With optimized aeroelastic tailoring and active flutter suppression, an aspect ratio of 12.4 could reduce fuel-burn by 5%, and 7% are targeted. FLiPASED is also led by MTA SZTAKI and include partners TUM, DLR and French aerospace research agency ONERA.
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