NASA has successfully demonstrated, flutter suppression of flexible wings in flight, potentially paving the way for lighter, lower-drag wings on future fuel-efficient aircraft.
Long, thin, high-aspect-ratio wings are considered crucial to the design of future long range aircraft, including fuel-efficient airliners and cargo transports.
Unlike the short, stiff wings found on most aircraft today, slender, flexible airfoils are susceptible to uncontrollable vibrations, known as flutter, and may be stressed by bending forces from wind gusts and atmospheric turbulence.
NASA’s X-56A Multi-Utility Technology Testbed, a small, remotely piloted experimental aircraft developed in subscale of 7.5 feet long, has a 28-foot wingspan, weighs about 480 pounds, and is powered by two small 90-pound thrust JetCat P400 turbojet engines.
The modular X-56A system includes two center bodies, a set of stiff wings, three sets of flexible wings, a ground control station and a transportation trailer. The X-56A has easily removed wings and is convertible to other wing configurations, such as a joined- wing planform or a wing-tail configuration. The aircraft is equipped with a ballistic parachute recovery system, which is intended to recover the fuselage and the majority of the aircraft systems in the event of an inflight wing failure.
Objective this project include:
• Maturation of flutter-suppression technologies
• Reduction of structural weight to improve fuel
efficiency and range
• Increase aspect ratio by 30 to 40 percent to reduce
• Promote improved long-term structural integrity by
reducing gust loads