Tech

March 5, 2014

Shape-changing flap arrives for adaptive compliant trailing edge flight tests

NASA aircraft technicians Leo and Juan Salazar work on installation of test instrumentation in preparation for installation of the experimental Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge flap on NASA’s modified G-III Aerodynamic Research Test Bed aircraft.

A milestone for the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge project at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center occurred in mid-February with the delivery of two revolutionary experimental flaps designed and built by FlexSys, Inc., of Ann Arbor, Mich., for installation on Armstrongís Gulfstream G-III Aerodynamics Research Test Bed aircraft.

Researchers are preparing to replace the airplaneís conventional 19-foot-long aluminum flaps with advanced, shape-changing assemblies that form continuous bendable surfaces. The new flexible flaps arrived at Armstrong by truck on Feb. 12 and were immediately unpacked in preparation for ground vibration testing in NASA Armstrong’s Flight Loads Laboratory, followed by fit checks and eventual installation.

Technicians have begun scanning the G-III with a special laser system to create a computer-generated 3-D model of the airplane. The flap assemblies will also be scanned so that project engineers can conduct virtual fit checks before actually installing the new flaps. This will reduce the risk of damaging either the airplane or its new control surfaces.

The ACTE experimental flight research project is a joint effort between NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to advance compliant structure technology for use in aircraft to significantly reduce drag, wing weight, and aircraft noise. The effort is part of NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation project that explores and documents the feasibility, benefits and technical risk of vehicle concepts and enabling technologies to reduce aviationís impact on the environment.




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