Leonardo completes demo of winglet morphing technology

A Leonardo C-27J test aircraft in flight.
Photo Credit: Leonardo

A European technological demonstrator integrated into a Leonardo C-27J aircraft has made a debut flight in Turin to test innovative morphing surfaces, which include morphing winglets capable of changing shape during flight.

The purpose of the modifications is to optimize flight performance and improve fuel efficiency.

The C-27J Flying Test Bed aircraft recently concluded its flight demonstration mission at Turin’s Caselle airport, marking the end of the Regional Integrated Aircraft Demonstration Platform (REG IADP) campaign.

This initiative is part of the European Clean Sky 2 programme, a collaborative effort aimed at fostering innovation and sustainability in aviation.

Background of the European Clean Sky 2 Programme

The European Clean Sky 2 programme is a visionary endeavor that began a decade ago, spearheaded by Leonardo, a prominent aerospace company.

It involves a consortium of over 100 partners, including national aeronautical experts, SMEs, research centers, universities, and industries, working together to advance aviation technology.

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Regional Integrated Aircraft Demonstration Platform (REG IADP)

The REG IADP campaign represents a culmination of years of research and development. It focuses on in-flight demonstrations to validate technical solutions aimed at enhancing fuel efficiency and reducing environmental impact in aviation.

 Leonardo’s C-27J Spartan aircraft served as the European Flying Test Bed for this campaign, showcasing innovative wing configurations and adaptive technologies.

Leonardo played a pivotal role in coordinating the REG IADP campaign and developing cutting-edge solutions for sustainable aviation.

The company’s engineers in Turin and Pomigliano d’Arco devised advanced wing configurations, including Innovative Wingtips and Morphing Winglets, designed to optimize flight performance and reduce fuel consumption.

C-27J in Clean Sky 2 configuration; Photo Credits: Leonardo

Innovative Technologies Tested in the C-27J

The C-27J Flying Test Bed features novel wing surfaces controlled by electromechanical actuators and digital systems.

These surfaces, such as the WingTip and Winglet, utilize active, adaptive technology to adjust their shape during flight, thereby improving aerodynamic efficiency and overall performance.

The successful conclusion of the REG IADP campaign marks a significant milestone in advancing sustainable aviation.

By validating innovative technologies and design concepts, such as active Load Control & Alleviation systems, the project contributes to reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with global efforts to combat climate change.

Future Prospects and Developments

The success of the REG IADP campaign underscores the importance of collaboration within the European aeronautical ecosystem.

Leonardo’s partnership with a diverse array of stakeholders, including research institutions, SMEs, and industry partners, demonstrates the power of collective innovation in driving progress towards a greener, more sustainable aviation industry.

Looking ahead, the insights gained from the REG IADP campaign will now inform future design and developments in aviation technology.

The availability of experimental data will enable further refinement of flight control systems and digital solutions, paving the way for more efficient, eco-friendly aircraft designs.

Conclusion

The conclusion of the REG IADP campaign signifies a potentially significant step forward in the quest for sustainable aviation.

Through collaborative research and technological innovation, Leonardo and its partners are aiming to reshape the future of flight, driving towards a cleaner, more environmentally friendly aviation industry.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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