Compliant Wing Superior to Hinged FlapsRather than employing a plethora of actuators and rigid mechanisms, FlexSys exploits material elasticity to achieve large deformations in shape morphing with very small strains resulting in highly reliable deformable structures that are strong and stiff to withstand external loads (air loads, inertial loads etc.) Using proprietary design methods, several morphing control surfaces were successfully developed for fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft including a flight demonstration in Dec. 2006 of a variable camber trailing edge for a fixed wing aircraft. The Compliant Design approach pioneered by FlexSys produced lightweight, seamless adaptive control surfaces airfoils, which demonstrated significant drag reduction, enhanced maneuverability and potential for significant noise reduction.
FlexSys Wing is an Aviation FirstFlexSys has developed the world's first functional, seamless, hinge-free wing whose trailing and/or leading edges morph on demand to adapt to different flight conditions. With Air Force funding, FlexSys has built working prototypes, and demonstrated their performance in wind tunnels. A fully instrumented model was flight tested in 2006. This ground-breaking shape-morphing technology has proven to be lightweight, power efficient, and durable.
Adaptive Compliant Wings Provide Significant Fuel SavingsThe most far reaching impact of this technology is fuel savings in the range of 5% to 12% for long-range military and commercial fixed wing aircraft. Studies by NASA Dryden Flight Research Center showed that a one percent reduction in drag for the U.S. fleet of wide-body transport aircraft could result in savings of approximately $140 million per year.
The technology also shows great promise for reducing airframe noise. The technology has been developed to provide seamless connection between the fixed and flapped portions of the wing enabling significant noise reduction.