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Aircraft design tools for ‘greener’ aeroplanes

Aircraft design tools and predictive software developed by EU-funded researchers should help aircraft manufacturers optimise wings for decreased air resistance leading to lower fuel consumption and less environmental impact.

Climate Change and Environment

Air flow around wings provides the lift and in-flight control required for a plane to get off the ground and manoeuvre in the air. Turbulent instead of laminar flow produces significant friction and drag leading to decreased efficiency and increased noise, emissions and fuel consumption. European researchers sought to develop a ‘green’ aircraft configuration with laminar flow control resulting in less drag and thus less environmental impact. EU-funding of the ‘Testing for laminar flow on new aircraft’ (Telfona) project enabled them to pursue their goals. In particular, the consortium of 15 organisations from 8 countries employed advanced computational fluid dynamics (CFD) numerical techniques together with experimental evaluation of flow through use of the European Transonic Windtunnel. They sought to enable prediction of non-linear flow (NLF) flight performance prior to launching a new aircraft project. Numerical tools and design knowledge resulting from the Telfona project are currently being employed by partners to design a natural laminar flow flying demonstrator. In addition, universities and research organisations are building on results to develop advanced modelling software. In the long term, Telfona project results should lead to environmentally friendly wing designs that will reduce emissions and fuel consumption and boost the competitiveness of the European aircraft industry.

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