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Mr Salmon said that if they could make small aircraft perform better at low speed, it should be possible to build planes with smaller wings, which would be lighter, less thirsty, and thus cheaper to fly.
X-21 Laminar Flow Control
The X-21 program consisted of a pair of WB-66D's modified by Northrop to conduct Laminar Flow Control wing studies. Laminar-flow control is a technology that offers the potential for improvements in aircraft fuel usage, range or endurance that far exceed any known single aeronautical technology. In principle, if 80% of wing is laminar, then overall drag could be reduced by 25%. The frictional force between the air and the aircraft surface, known as viscous drag, is much larger in a turbulent boundary layer than in a laminar one. The principal type of active laminar-flow control is removal of a small amount of the boundary-layer air by suction through porous materials, multiple narrow surface slots, or small perforations.