After being inspired by the formation flight of wild geese to reduce aircraft drag and therefore fuel consumption, Airbus is doing it again. The teams of Airbus UpNext, the subsidiary that innovates in a disruptive way, are preparing to test a new wing inspired, again by birds, on a test aircraft. It is a Cessna business jet that will serve as a test aircraft to receive new wings that have been developed in the laboratory and tested in the wind tunnel at Filton in England. These wings will be equipped with movable tips that will adapt to the speed, the winds… a bit like the flapping of a bird’s wings. On all current aircraft, the wings remain fixed in flight.
First flight in Toulouse in 2024
This test aircraft is inspired by a previous research program called “AlbatrossOne” which had made it possible to test mobile wings on a scale model. Specifically during taxiing and take-off, but also in the event of severe turbulence or aircraft turns, the ends of the wings are raised to minimize air resistance and therefore reduce fuel consumption. These moving parts are then locked during the climb phases of the aircraft and during cruise flight.
All these tests will be carried out full-scale on the trial Cessna which has just come out of the painting hall in Toulouse. The construction of the plane which will profoundly transform the aircraft will take place in 2023 at Toulouse Aerotec with the installation of the mobile wings but also of the bays, computers and sensors which will be used to collect all the flight and aerodynamic data. The first flight is expected for 2024.