No sooner is Mr Dyson is in the news, then we hear of another application featuring 'Blade' technology, only this time its not a trendy hand dryer but the Airbus A340-300 prototype flying with some interesting wing attachments as a test bed for the investigation of friction reducing potential of laminar flow wings.
Essentially the technology is designed to reduce wing airflow friction by 50percent, and as a bonus reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5percent.
Airbus said in its statement, the laminar-flow “BLADE” test demonstrator aircraft (A340-300 MSN001) has made its successful maiden flight for the EU-sponsored Clean Sky “Blade” project. The aircraft, took off from the Tarbes aerodrome in southern France and after a series of successful tests it landed at Airbus’ facilities in Toulouse, after being airborne for three hours and 38 minutes.
The BLADE project – which stands for “Breakthrough Laminar Aircraft Demonstrator in Europe” – assesses the feasibility of introducing the technology for commercial aviation. Dubbed 'Flight Lab' it is the first test aircraft in the world to combine a transonic laminar wing profile with a true internal primary structure.
The technical bit is also seen attached to the outside the aircraft, fitted with two representative transonic laminar outer-wings, while inside the cabin a highly complex specialist flight-test-instrumentation (FTI) station is installed.
“We began by opening the flight envelope to check that the aircraft was handling correctly,” says Airbus Flight-Test Engineer, Philippe Seve. “We achieved our objective to fly at the design Mach number, at a reasonable altitude and check everything was fine. We also checked that the FTI was working as expected, to identify further fine-tuning for the next flights.”
Blade’s prime task is to measure the tolerances and imperfections which can be present and still sustain what is termed 'laminarity'.
Airbus say they will simulate every type of imperfection in a controlled manner, so that at the end of the campaign the tolerances for building a laminar wing will be fully known. The 'Flight Lab' will perform around 150 flight hours in the coming months.
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Analyst/expert, ... Travel & Holiday Guru www.aviationcomment.com,
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