GKN Aerospace has increased its participation with the 'Clean Sky' Joint Technology Initiative (JTI), growing involvement with the development of a Natural Laminar Flow (NLF) wing through both ground-based and flight demonstrators.
GKN Aerospace is now taking NLF wing design and evaluation work, completed in phase one of Clean Sky, into the 'phase two' development of a ground-based structural systems demonstrator. The Company is also set to design and manufacture major components of the NLF wing flight demonstrator, providing the metallic leading edge and composite upper cover for this innovative structure. GKN Aerospace engineers will be investigating novel techniques and technologies to achieve a structure with the right tolerances at the right price. The flight demonstrator platform will be an A340 with the outer third of the wing replaced with the NLF wing development sections. Flight tests are scheduled for 2014/2015.
A fully NLF wing is considered to be one of the key developments to reduce drag in the next generation of aircraft and has the potential to provide 3-4% fuel savings, making this a vital technology to meet critical ACARE emissions targets. However an NLF wing is very different from a conventional wing and requires changes to wing architecture, aerofoil definition and detailed design and manufacturing concepts. The more slender sections and very high tolerance surface finishes and joints also present the industry with new challenges.
Marcus Bryson, Chief Executive Officer, GKN Aerospace comments: "Clean Sky continues to progress real breakthrough technologies that will improve aircraft performance and help the aerospace sector meet the rigorous ACARE noise and emissions targets for 2020. We at GKN Aerospace are growing our participation wherever our expertise can bring benefit. This is an invaluable initiative that is providing a vital driving force helping the industry bring promising technologies closer to market readiness."
Clean Sky is one of the largest European Union/Industry research programmes ever undertaken (Euros1.6 billion) and focuses on developing breakthrough technologies that will significantly reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.