111 innovations

Morphing leading edge to reduce drag and noise

Passengers looking out the window of a passenger plane will likely have noticed slats on the leading edge of the wing, along with the flaps on the trailing edge of the wing, being extended during takeoff and landing. These leading edge slats provide the lift necessary at low speeds, with the gap between the wing and the slats directing air from the underside of the wing to the top. Unfortunately, this gap also generates a lot of noise. A team of researchers has now developed a morphing leading edge that eliminates the gap and reduces noise and drag during landing.

The “smart droop nose” developed by researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) working with partners Airbus, EADS Innovation Works and Cassidian Air Systems, literally morphs into a different shape during takeoff and landing so that no separate slats – and no gap – is necessary.

The researchers have tested the system’s operation and performance in in one of Europe's largest wind tunnels at the Russian Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute’s (TsAGI) Zhukovsky research facility south of Moscow and found that the morphing leading edge can be lowered by up to 20 degrees with virtually no loss of lift.

Source: gizmag.comAdded: 18 September 2012