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art
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Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:44 am

From an article in aviationweek.com. The proposal concerns a business jet but if it works for a small jet there should be a way to scale it up for airliners, shouldn't there?

(API) and joint-venture partner FlexSys are working with an undisclosed customer to retrofit an aircraft with the first commercial morphing wing.


The wing-morphing “flexfoil” demonstrator illustrated how the airfoil shape could change in flight to boost performance over a wide range of angles of attack, indicated airspeeds and Mach levels. The scale model showed how wing morphing could provide integrated roll control, high lift, cruise optimization, load alleviation and even deicing functions.

The new approach to variable-camber wings builds on a FlexSys-developed compliant composite structure that eliminates the mechanical complexity of previous shape-adaptive surfaces. The wing incorporates a one-piece, jointless mechanism that is strong and flexible, in which every section of the structure contributes equally to the shape-morphing while all components share the loads. Each section therefore sees only a small elastic strain with low stress, and the structure can undergo large deformations with high-fatigue life and low maintenance.


What sort of improvements could one expect from a morphing wing on an airliner? Would potential fuel savings be sufficiently dramatic to warrant the investment in developing this technology for airliners? What other benefits would follow - eg shorter take off runs (very useful for hot and high airports / airports with short runways like LCY)?

Looking at the video of the demonstration wing actually morphing, it looks like ailerons and flaps could be dispensed with if this system works. Would be a cost saver, wouldn't it?

You need to sign up (free) to read this article at http://aviationweek.com/MorphingWing
 
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OA940
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:09 pm

I don't get what they mean. Are there images?
A350/CSeries = bae
 
Noshow
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:11 pm

 
flyingcat
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:15 pm

My hunch was that we would get aeroelastic technology first with morphing technology as the next step.

I wonder if the fact that most aircraft carry fuel in wing tanks led to implementation issues.
 
Noshow
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:19 pm

Could they use it fast running for some flapping wing concept like a bird?
 
art
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:29 pm

Noshow wrote:
Could they use it fast running for some flapping wing concept like a bird?


Glad you mention birds. They cottoned onto the benefits of dynamic aerofoil reshaping some time ago.
 
Noshow
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:33 pm

Birds and fish (including mammals like whales and dolphins here) are moving so much more elegant and efficient. This must be the way to go including for flying and swimming/diving objects, evolution seems to suggest.
Maybe one day aeroplanes might even eat fish as fuel before takeoff :mrgreen:
 
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Byron1976
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:00 pm

Well, the Wright Flyer got some kinda morphing wing to get the aileron functionality. IMHO, I see hard to be applied on an airliner because as I can see on the picture of the article cited above, the spar section of the wing looks very complex and that means sacrifice precious space on the wings for fuel. I'm sure that a morphing wing could bring some benefits, but I don't thing that those benefits can be applied to any scale.
Edited for spelling
Last edited by Byron1976 on Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
Noshow
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:02 pm

At least nature can size this concept from humming birds to condors. If you include insects even more.
 
art
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:15 pm

Noshow wrote:
At least nature can size this concept from humming birds to condors. If you include insects even more.


I assume that nature spent a few million years developing and refining lift and control mechanisms for flight. How quickly could the aviation industry develop the morphing concept to the point where the advantages outweighed the disadvantages? And what would it cost?
 
mjoelnir
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:18 pm

A morphing wing is a big name. As it is we change the form of the wing during flight, using flaps and slats, their were gliders changing the wingspan during flight. The A350 and 787 are using very small degrees of flaps to adjust lift and drag during the flight. The whole difference is on the morphing wing are elastic areas were, slats and flaps are not separate pieces, but the wing itself is formed.
IMO we will spend quite a while on refining the current flaps and slats before we see a morphing wing.
 
WIederling
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:32 pm

art wrote:
Noshow wrote:
At least nature can size this concept from humming birds to condors. If you include insects even more.


I assume that nature spent a few million years developing and refining lift and control mechanisms for flight. How quickly could the aviation industry develop the morphing concept to the point where the advantages outweighed the disadvantages? And what would it cost?


nature is "try and error" and cannot do step changes. ( evolution demands that to any optimization there is a path of optimal intermediate steps. The newer optimum is only better than the last optimum in relation to the current competition metrics.

humans can do scientific research, generate new abstractions and come to a completely new optimal design.
( those that drown problems in number crunshing dabstering in the dark haven't understood "scientic".)
Murphy is an optimist
 
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SomebodyInTLS
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:33 pm

Hmm...

a one-piece, jointless mechanism that is strong and flexible, in which every section of the structure contributes equally to the shape-morphing while all components share the loads. Each section therefore sees only a small elastic strain with low stress, and the structure can undergo large deformations with high-fatigue life and low maintenance.


Looking at the image in Flugrevue I have to say that that looks absolutely the opposite of strong, low-stress, high fatigue - unless that big bar in the middle is made from some class-A Unobtanium...
"As with most things related to aircraft design, it's all about the trade-offs and much more nuanced than A.net likes to make out."
 
art
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:26 pm

Video of morphing wing in action is on youtube.

Link: https://youtu.be/bC5BUuDFhmg
 
YYZYYT
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:19 pm

Interesting concept, but I am at a loss to see the overall benefit.

I assuming that the movement/reshaping will be accomplished by use of similar technology to what is presently used (actuators, motors, hinges)... only instead of moving fixed-shape panels into different angles relative to each other they are bending the shape of the wing surface. Any comments?

I imagine that there will be some aerodynamic benefits, but there will have to be some serious limitations also. Such as increased maintenance and inspection difficulties / costs? And how is the durability of the materials used? What will be the effect on wing strength (replacing these large canoes which house with hinges and equipment and instead fit them into the wing itself)? And what about engine and landing gear mounts and wing fuel tanks (I'm also guessing that morphing be limited to outboard ailerons / flaps only)?

Can the benefits outweigh the costs associated with all of the above?
 
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DocLightning
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:56 pm

YYZYYT wrote:
I imagine that there will be some aerodynamic benefits, but there will have to be some serious limitations also. Such as increased maintenance and inspection difficulties / costs? And how is the durability of the materials used? What will be the effect on wing strength (replacing these large canoes which house with hinges and equipment and instead fit them into the wing itself)? And what about engine and landing gear mounts and wing fuel tanks (I'm also guessing that morphing be limited to outboard ailerons / flaps only)?


I will point out that a morphing panel has been used on the 747 since the inception of the program in the 1960s. The leading edge flaps dramatically flex during deployment and they de-flex when they are stowed. This has never been a major maintenance limitation for the 747.

A flexing aileron will offer some aerodynamic benefit, but for high-lift devices it will not allow for slotted flaps. That may be a disadvantage in certain applications. There is also the matter of spoilers, which must be separate fixed panels. On most wings, the TE flaps and/or ailerons begin where the spoiler panels end. For the sections of the wing with a flexing aileron, one solution might be to deflect the aileron all the way up when the spoilers are deployed. The 777 and 787 already do this.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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shamrock15
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:47 pm

A similar idea was tried by the US on F-111 aircraft.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc9x6ssQLfs

The whole wing actually changes shape in this, not just a portion of it. If I remember correctly it is supposed to reduce drag. An an airliner it means you would no longer require all those fairings to guide flaps. That could be pretty significant.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Morphing wings coming soon?

Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:53 pm

art wrote:
What sort of improvements could one expect from a morphing wing on an airliner? Would potential fuel savings be sufficiently dramatic to warrant the investment in developing this technology for airliners?


I think I remember 15% for a new design with this technology. If it worked, that would be huge. It's been tested in flight on a Gulfstream business jet.

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