Biologically Inspired Shape Changing Aerodynamic Profiles and their Effect on Flight Performance of Future Aircraft
Flying has been inspired by biology since the very early days of aviation. Although aircraft look to be established with regard to their structural design today, active materials have again triggered as to what degree aerodynamic profiles could become more adaptive with regard to their shape and achieving enhanced flight performance. Demonstrating the shortcomings of wing adaptiveness on manned aircraft size is time consuming and costly. This can however be overcome by performing these demonstrations on aircraft at much smaller scale. Aircraft at this scale are micro aerial vehicles (MAV) which have spans far less than a metre and a weight of no more than a few hundred grams. To enhance manoeuvrability and stability birds and insects use actuation principles along their wings such as changing wing thickness or stiffness, or actuating individual flaps with their feathers. Similar effects will be shown for an MAV’s wing thickness and stiffness change regarding flight stability and manoeuvrability and how this can be realised using active materials. It will be explained how a variable V-tail and a vector thrust propulsion system can be realised on an MAV and the resulting effect on flight performance. Results from real flight tests will be included and conclusions will be based on the consequences regarding larger sized aircraft.
Pietro VINCENZINI and Fabio CASCIATI
C. Boller et al., "Biologically Inspired Shape Changing Aerodynamic Profiles and their Effect on Flight Performance of Future Aircraft", Advances in Science and Technology, Vol. 56, pp. 534-544, 2008