The EU project SARISTU (Smart Intelligent Aircraft Structures) aims to reduce kerosene consumption by six percent, and integrating flexible landing devices into aircraft wings is one step towards that target.
A new mechanism alters the landing flap’s shape to dynamically accommodate the airflow. Algorithms to control the required shape modifications in flight were programmed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS in Chemnitz, in collaboration with colleagues from the Italian Aerospace Research Center (CIRA) and the University of Naples.
"We’ve come up with a silicon skin with alternate rigid and soft zones,” Said Andreas Lühring from Fraunhofer IFAM. “There are five hard and three soft zones, enclosed within a silicon skin cover extending over the top.”
The mechanism sits underneath the soft zones, the areas that are most distended. While the novel design is noteworthy, it is the material itself that stands out, since the flexible parts are made of elastomeric foam that retains their elasticity even at temperatures ranging from -55 to 80° Celsius.
Four 90-centimeter-long prototypes — two of which feature skin segments — are already undergoing testing.
Also: Learn about Active Wing Shaping Control.