NASA Tests New Wing Designs

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NASA's X-56A

NASA's X-56A

NASA researchers are testing new technologies that should lead to wing designs that are lighter, more efficient, quieter and safer than today’s wings, the agency said this week. The Passive Aeroelastic Tailored, or PAT, wing is expected to arrive later this year at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. The uniquely designed composite wing is more flexible than conventional wings, said Larry Hudson, chief test engineer at Armstrong Flight Loads Laboratory. “It’s called a passive tailored wing because the structural efficiency is contained within the construction of the wing; it’s not an active system that is controlling the structural efficiency of the wing, it’s the composite layout,” Hudson said. The uniquely instrumented wing will fly on the subscale X-56A unmanned test aircraft in November.

NASA is also working on an Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge flight-test project, or ACTE, at Armstrong, which is showing that a new flap design can reduce aircraft noise by as much as 30 percent on takeoff and landing. The next phase of the project, which will finish by the end of this year, will aim to validate the technology at higher speeds and study how the flaps affect aerodynamic forces that could improve fuel efficiency. The flaps are being flight-tested using NASA’s modified G-III Aerodynamic Research Test Bed aircraft.

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