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USAF and Lockheed experimenting with active aerolastic control technologies

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posted on Aug, 6 2013 @ 09:56 PM
The USAF Research Lab and Lockheed Martin are launching a program to develop active aerolastic control technologies, using the unmanned X-56 aircraft. If successful it would allow for thinner, lighter, purpose built wings, with a higher aspect ratio than current stiff wings.

Initial flights collecting data began on July 26th with a rigid wing. Later this year, NASA will take control of two aircraft, and four sets of wings to continue testing. They will eventually embed a number of sensors, to detect flutter and gust loads, and counter them using the aircraft control surfaces. Eventually the hope is to allow real time countering.

The irony here is that aerolastic controls were put into the 1901, 1902, Wright gliders, and the 1903 Wright Flyer (called wing warping back then).

The US Air Force Research Laboratory and Lockheed Martin have kicked off an $18 million research programme into active aeroelastic control technologies, which if proved practical would in principle translate into thinner, lighter and better optimised wings with a much higher aspect ratio than is possible with the rigid wings that have characterised most powered flight to-date.

The initial USAF programme, which is worth about $18 million, covers the cost of developing the unmanned X-56 and performing about 20 initial test flights on the purpose-built machine. It includes two of the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft, three sets of fibreglass high-aspect ratio aeroelastic wings and one "stiff" wing.

Initial flights, including a 26 July data-gathering sortie, are being undertaken with the stiff wing. Later flights will use the lighter, more flexible fiberglass wings. These are detachable because of the high-risk nature of the testing, and the aircraft also has a built-in parachute to hopefully prevent the total loss of an airframe if there is an accident.

posted on Aug, 6 2013 @ 10:15 PM
Boy Those Wright Bros sure were ahead of their time hey?
I had thought that this tech was already in the R&D stages for some time already.....
This is natural step for craft fitted with non metallic synthetic skins of new and exciting materials coming onstream

posted on Aug, 7 2013 @ 05:19 AM
Video from 2012 with accident include. And another link with movie and some pictures.

posted on Aug, 7 2013 @ 06:47 AM
I like the shark nose art on the CGI model:

Flutter suppression and gust load alleviation could filter down to commercial aircraft designs, making them safer and more aerodynamically efficient.

Here's a YouTube video about the X-56A:

posted on Aug, 7 2013 @ 10:39 AM

Originally posted by stirling
Boy Those Wright Bros sure were ahead of their time hey?I had thought that this tech was already in the R&D stages for some time already.....This is natural step for craft fitted with non metallic synthetic skins of new and exciting materials coming onstream
Many theories, concepts and technologies are re-invented and re-introduced on a constant basis as time progresses. The shrinking electronics, sensors, raw materials, and especially faster computing has allowed this to progress upto a great extent IMO. I sometimes wonder how many of the earlier patents are re-visited every year by DARPA/DOD every year.
edit on 7-8-2013 by hp1229 because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 7 2013 @ 11:05 AM
reply to post by ionwind

One of the goals is a thinner, lighter, more efficient wing for large aircraft. So if this pans out within ten or fifteen years we may see a totally new wing flying.

posted on Aug, 7 2013 @ 07:03 PM
reply to post by Zaphod58

Probably a flying wing no less. Anyone else see that the drone looks almost like a bwb? Is that the direction were going?

posted on Aug, 7 2013 @ 07:27 PM
reply to post by boomer135

Yes, and no. From what I've heard they're leaning away from the design for passenger flight, but like it a lot for cargo flights. It's more efficient for cargo loading, and the amount of cargo it can carry, but the fact that the passengers will essentially be in the wings is steering designers away from it for hauling passengers.

posted on Aug, 7 2013 @ 07:37 PM
I remember reading recently, that when WW2 aircraft approached max speed, the wings use to flap etc, distorting the airframe, making the plane unstable and dangerous. Max for those craft was about 450mph.

It was found that the greater wing surface caused too much air to travel across the wing creating instability etc etc, and with their scientific skills of the time, and the intro of the jet engine, it was tested and discovered that swept back wings reduced the surface area that the air used, and stability returned.

Dont know how that would affect circular craft? Tho I would think they dont rely on lift aerodynamics, as much as a winged craft.

I dont know why moulded composite skins are'nt used nowdays, like carbon fibre etc.

posted on Aug, 7 2013 @ 07:59 PM
reply to post by gort51

Until recently, delamination was a real problem with composites (and by recently I mean up until Airbus, and eventually Boeing started to get a lot of experience with them). Especially after lightning strikes, or flying through a storm. If you have an aircraft mostly of composites, and it starts to delaminate, that's a Bad Thing (in fact Boeing at one point in the 787 development had a delamination problem with some sections).
edit on 8/7/2013 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 9 2013 @ 04:06 AM
reply to post by Zaphod58

We have serious delamination problems with the h60m stability. specifically the center stab. Its a pain in the ass when one of these delaminates and we wind up having to ground the bird for a while.

Composites have come a long way, but they have a long way still.

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