Morphing Wings Will Turn Planes into Fuel-Saving Shape-Shifters

Image for article titled Morphing Wings Will Turn Planes into Fuel-Saving Shape-Shifters

Flying’s great—you can be whisked across time zones in a matter of hours—but it’s not so great for your wallet, or the atmosphere. But NASA’s new wing design that adjusts its flaps mid-flight could be the fix.


NASA teamed up with the U.S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and Michigan-based engineering firm FlexSys Inc. to create a new type of wing that tailors its flap angles from -2 degrees to 30 degrees. Instead of plane ol’ flat wings, these flexible puppies can be adjusted up and down to make the aircraft more aerodynamic. This can make aircraft lighter, and also make them less noisy during takeoff and landing.

The tech’s been dubbed Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) flight. Testing started late last year, and just now successfully completed all 22 flight tests.

Now, looking ahead, ACTE tech can either be retrofitted onto existing planes, or integrated into brand new ones.

Now maybe if we can just complimentary booze on all flights, we’d be golden.


Image: NASA




How much saving in fuel efficiency is expected from this technology?