GKN wing

GKN Aerospace and Airbus have partnered to develop an ultra-high performance, natural laminar flow (NLF) wing for the next-generation of low emission aircraft.

The new wing concept is developed as part of the ground based structural and systems demonstrator phase of the Clean Sky smart fixed-wing aircraft programme.

GKN has delivered the wing technology demonstrator to the Clean Sky programme, which will make further improvements to the technology.

GKN Aerospace technical director Rich Oldfield said: "The NLF wing promises a substantial improvement in aerodynamic performance and reduction in drag when compared to a modern turbulent wing.

"Achieving these performance improvements will be a significant step towards reaching the ACARE goals for 2020, which include a 50% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and an 80% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions."

The 4.5m x 1m ground-based demonstrator is a flight-representative wing attached to a partial wing box assembly.

It incorporates a Krueger flap in two sections, which allowed GKN’s engineers to evaluate two design concepts.

"The NLF wing promises a substantial improvement in aerodynamic performance and reduction in drag."

The first part applies a monolithic composite skin to the traditional rib design, while the second includes a radical design to tackle NLF tolerance related issues.

Krueger flap has been developed using additive manufacturing processes, to support the panel by three composite ribs, a central rib and two closing ribs.

GKN’s teams at the UK’s National Composites Centre, GKN Aerospace in Luton and at the GKN Aerospace additive manufacturing centre in Bristol have work together on the project.

Airbus will be responsible for assembly of the wing components at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry.

The company will also manage the integration of Krueger flaps and deployment mechanism at its facility in Bremen, Germany.

Image: GKN’s innovative wing leading-edge composite sandwich panel. Photo: courtesy of GKN Aerospace.

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