AEROELASTICITY

February 2, 2014


Several months ago I posted an article entitled “GREEN AVIATION”.  That blog (hopefully) indicated several efforts to bring about improvements in the GPH (gallons per hour) of fuel used by commercial aviation.  Those efforts are significant and involve the following:

  • Investigations into the use of “bio-fuels”
  • Improvements in aerodynamics of aircraft bodies including the flight surfaces
  • The use of adhesives instead of rivets and screws used as fasteners for outer surfaces
  • The use of composite materials to lessen the overall weight of an aircraft

That effort continues by companies such as BOEING and governmental agencies such as NASA.  We also must factor into the “mix” educational institutions.  All three contribute greatly in the search for improvements relative to reducing the use of precious, non-renewable fossil fuels.  The following is one such effort.

Engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., recently installed this 15-percent scale model based on a possible future aircraft design by the Boeing Company in its Transonic Dynamics Tunnel. The 13-foot model is “semi-span,” meaning it looks like a plane cut in half. It is being used to assess the aeroelastic qualities of the unusual truss-braced wing configuration. (“Aeroelastic,” or “aeroelasticity,” is the study of how an aircraft flexes during flight in response to aerodynamic forces. The “truss” is the diagonal piece attached to the belly of the fuselage and the underside of the wing.)

BOEING AND NASA

 

Boeing designed the concept as part of SUGAR (Subsonic Ultra-Green Aircraft Research) to help conceive of airplane technologies and designs needed 20 years from now to meet projected fuel efficiency and other “green” aviation requirements. According to Boeing engineers the wind tunnel tests will help validate the analysis done during the SUGAR study, which predicts that the truss-braced wing would improve fuel consumption by 5 to 10 percent over advanced conventional wings. Boeing’s SUGAR work, as well as that of other teams studying advanced future aircraft concepts, is funded through NASA’s Fundamental Aeronautics Program’s Fixed Wing Project.

I will certainly keep you posted as to further developments in the “GREEN AVIATION” world.  It’s a fascinating technology.

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