Airbus to Develop Jet Wings That Can Adjust Their Shape Automatically in Flight

Airbus has launched a new program to accelerate and validate technologies that will improve wing aerodynamics and performance for future aircraft. This scaled demonstration will integrate and test cutting-edge wing technology on a Cessna Citation VII business jet platform under representative flight conditions.
CESSNA Citation VII with artist rendering of extra-performing wings 6 photos
Photo: Airbus
Cessna Citation VIICessna Citation VIICessna Citation VIICessna Citation VII with artist rendering of extra-performing wingsCessna Citation VII
The new program's extra-performing wing uses would be compatible with any propulsion option and aircraft configuration and would decrease CO2 emissions significantly, adding to Airbus' decarbonization roadmap. This includes not only reducing the CO2 emissions of its aircraft, helicopters, and launch vehicles but also delivering the company's first zero-emission commercial aircraft to market by 2035.

"Airbus is continuously investigating parallel and complementary solutions such as infrastructure, flight operations and aircraft structure. With this demonstrator, we will make significant strides in active control technology through research and applied testing of various technologies inspired by biomimicry," says Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer.

Similar to how an eagle flies by adapting the shape, span, and surface of its wings, this demonstrator will allow for increased flight efficiency. To facilitate active control of the wing, several tech elements will be evaluated. These include pop-up spoilers or plates that are rapidly deflected perpendicular to airflow, gust sensors, multifunctional trailing edges that dynamically modify wing surface in flight, and a semi-aeroelastic hinge.

The demonstrator is hosted within Airbus' subsidiary Airbus UpNext, which focuses on accelerating the development of future technologies by building demonstrators at a rapid pace and scale in order to evaluate, mature, and validate potential new products and services involving radical technological advancements.

The new program's extra-performing wing also adds to the Airbus' "Wing of Tomorrow" project, which aims to develop new manufacturing methods for essential wing elements, such as wing box lower covers, flaps, and spoiler and droop panels. The final goal is to create complex components in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.
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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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