Articles, Blog

Experimental Wing for Maximized Efficiency Put to Test

December 6, 2019


>>This the largest test article
ever built with a curved path. The name of this project
is the Passive Aeroelastic Tailored Wing. We call it the PAT Wing
because it’s easier to say. [ Music ]>>Minus 30 on 4, reengage.>>There are several
differences between this wing and a traditional wing. First of all, it’s
built out of composites. Some of the newer aircraft
that we see being built in commercial transports
are built out of composite, but it’s different from
those not only in the shape, the geometry, the length,
and the width and thickness, but also the biggest
difference is in the skins. We’re actually steering
the composite fibers. With this particular design,
we’re trying to tailor that stiffness, and so instead of going straight along the
wing, we’re actually curving that fiber in the
plane of the wing so that we can change the
stiffness along the full length. [ Music ]>>This was one of the most
heavily instrumented wings we’ve ever tested. There was about 10,000
sensors on our wing, which included fiberoptic
strain sensing, conditional strain sensing,
displacement sensors, load sensing, and
also inclinometers.>>Surface prep, bonding,
wiring, check-out, so there’s quite a bit
that does go into it. [ Music ]>>For the last four years or
so, the wing was fabricated by Aurora in Mississippi, and
the wing was brought here. Over the last 6 months,
we integrated it into our test fixture. We use the hydraulic load
control system to apply load at 7 stations along the wing. [ Music ]>>Pressure’s up
for [inaudible]. [ Music ]>>Just figuring out
where we need to be, to be at the right angles so
that we can see the targets.>>Each camera bar has two
cameras on it in stereo, so it’s giving us a
three-dimensional position of each of those targets. [ Background Conversation ]>>In future transports, we see
the wings are getting larger, longer, and thinner for
aerodynamic benefits, mostly for drag reduction,
and so the challenge is when wings get longer
and thinner, they become more flexible,
and so the intention of this particular test was to
try to control that flexibility to allow us to still
build a lightweight wing with the structural benefits and enable the aerodynamic
benefits simultaneously.>>Because this wing was going
to see large displacements under load, we designed
a special loading system that included both under-wing
loading and over-wing loading.>>The length of the wing is 39
feet and the tip is projected to deflect on the
order of 8 feet.>>Go ahead and start
the load profile.>>The testing lasted
for a couple of weeks. Typical positive upload tests
took approximately an hour, and that data the sensors
collected at 100 hertz or 20 hertz, depending
on the type of sensor, will be collected and we
will take that and analyze that over the next 6 months.>>We hope that this will find
its way into commercial market, and this is really the
first step to demonstrate that it’s not only
feasible, but then, you know, it’ll give us a path
towards being able to certify the technology
so that it can be used in commercial aircraft. [ Music ]

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12 Comments

  • Reply Frequent Flyer February 11, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    I love your work nasa!

  • Reply Mike James February 11, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Fascinating! I'm not an aerospace engineer, but have always been intrigued by the amount of bending that these structures can take, and that the control systems, fuel systems, electrical systems, etc., can still function. I'd be highly interested in hearing more about all of that. Regardless, excellent work!

  • Reply Rui Leite February 11, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Moon base when?

  • Reply thumbugly February 11, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    This is wonderful. I imagine a future aircraft with the results of this research as well as wing warping research will have a graceful wing silhouette. Couple all your compatriots’ work on fuel efficiency, sound abatement, endurance and the like, I’d like to see that bird fly. Thanks to everyone: NASA and contractor alike.

  • Reply Bojan Šekutkovski February 11, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    That's great! Huge steps towards perfection of aerodynamics as well as lightweight and optimised structures! Big achievements in technology of aircraft assembling and new technologies of designing the composite materials, congratulations!

  • Reply 79ninzombie February 11, 2019 at 8:27 pm

    At 2:00 in why do I hear the Battlefield theme?

  • Reply scottymakestoast February 11, 2019 at 11:39 pm

    where oh where will you ever find space for the tens of thousands of gallons of fuel (commonly stored in the wings) in these fancy new slimline wings?

  • Reply Talon Jasra February 13, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    This is awesome, though slightly disappointed that we didn't get to see that wing tested until it was broken, 154 style.

  • Reply Ledimestari February 26, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    1:19 What's up with the font spaced so randomly

  • Reply Xander Vice May 6, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    Even if this does give positive results, manufacturing is too complex, with probably a much higher cost. Make it easy to produce with competitive cost to manufacture, then it might be a valid replacement for what's currently used.

  • Reply S T H June 18, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Way to go!

  • Reply Mike July 27, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    Now we need Composite Feathers. Lab grown?

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