It’s official: NASA has completed the first tests for its newly-developed airplane technology. The new airplane wing, which can change shape mid-flight, successfully passed 22 test flights in a six-month period.
“We are thrilled to have accomplished all of our flight test goals without encountering any significant technical issues,” said Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) program manager Pete Flick.
The “Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE)” wings can rotate -2 degrees in one direction and up to 30 degrees in the other thanks to mechanisms inside the flexible shell of the aircraft. This increases or reduces the drag of air flowing over the wing. The innovation could mean a huge shift in aviation – it could increase the fuel economy of the airplanes, reducing both airfares and pollution significantly.
“This is the first of eight large-scale integrated technology demonstrations ERA is finishing up this year that are designed to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment,” said Fay Collier, project manager for ERA (Environmentally Responsible Aviation).
While not yet approved for use in commercial airplanes, the technology holds great promise for the near future.