Ann Arbor, MI

FlexSys designed and built two experimental flaps for Armstrong Flight Research Center’s Gulfstream G-III Aerodynamics Research Test Bed aircraft. Researchers will replace the airplane’s conventional 19-foot-long aluminum flaps with the advanced, shape-changing assemblies that form continuous, bendable surfaces. The new flexible flaps are being prepared for ground vibration testing in NASA Armstrong’s Flight Loads Laboratory, followed by fit checks and eventual installation.

experimental wing flaps
FlexSys designed experimental wing flaps

Technicians have begun scanning the G-III with a special laser system to create a computer-generated 3D model of the airplane. To reduce the risk of damaging either the aircraft or its new control surfaces, the flap assemblies will also be scanned so that project engineers can conduct the virtual fit checks before installing the new components.

The development is a milestone for the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) project at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. The ACTE experimental flight research project is a joint effort between NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to improve compliant structure technology and reduce drag, wing weight, and aircraft noise. The effort is also part of NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) initiative, which explores vehicle concepts that reduce aviation’s impact on the environment.

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