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flexible flap SmallNASA's green aviation project is developing technology that could make future passenger aircraft quieter and more fuel-efficient with a wing surface that can change shape in flight.

Researchers replaced an airplane's conventional flaps with shape-changing assemblies that form seamless bendable and twistable surfaces.


flexible flap Medium

The Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) project is a joint effort between NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), using flaps designed and built by FlexSys, Inc. FlexSys have developed a variable geometry aerofoil system called FlexFoil that can be retrofitted to existing airplane wings or integrated into brand new airframes.

Flight testing will determine whether flexible trailing-edge wing flaps are a viable approach to improve aerodynamic efficiency and reduce noise generated during take-offs and landings.

During the initial ACTE flight, the experimental control surfaces were locked at a specified setting. Different flap settings will be employed on subsequent flights to collect a variety of data demonstrating the capability of the flexible wings to withstand a real flight environment.

ACTE technology is expected to have far-reaching effects on future aviation. Advanced lightweight materials will reduce wing structural weight and give engineers the ability to aerodynamically tailor the wings to promote improved fuel economy and more efficient operations, while reducing environmental impacts.

"The first flight went as planned, we validated many key elements of the experimental trailing edges," said Thomas Rigney, ACTE Project Manager at Armstrong.


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