Bending, Twisting Flap Tested


NASA has flight tested a flap design that can be bent and twisted in flight to improve aerodynamics and reduce noise. The Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge flap has shape-changing assemblies that seamlessly bend and twist rather than running in one dimension along rails or guides. The plan is to be able to contort the trailing edges to the optimum shape for the stage of flight and get the most out of the wing while stopping the noise that results as air pours through the gaps and cracks necessary for conventional flaps to deploy. “We have progressed from an innovative idea and matured the concept through multiple designs and wind tunnel tests, to a final demonstration that should prove to the aerospace industry that this technology is ready to dramatically improve aircraft efficiency,” said AFRL Program Manager Pete Flick, from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

The system was developed by FlexSys Inc., of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The system can be incorporated into new aircraft or retrofitted on existing airframes. It is being flight tested on a NASA GIII at Edwards Air Force Base and flew for the first time Nov. 7. “This flight test is one of the NASA Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project’s eight large-scale integrated technology demonstrations to show design improvements in drag, weight, noise, emission and fuel reductions,” said Fay Collier, ERA project manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.