The Natural Laminar Flow airfoil is considered to be one of the key technologies to reduce drag and thus improve the performance of an aircraft, therefore reducing emissions. The Natural Laminar Flow Wing is recognized as a potential key technology for the next generation of aircraft.
The requirements of a Natural laminar flow wing differ significantly from a conventional turbulent wing, requiring changes to both the architecture of the wing, the aerofoil definition and the detailed design and manufacturing concepts.
The performance of a natural laminar flow wing requires very tight surface roughness and waviness tolerances and contamination free surfaces in the areas where laminar flow is to be maintained. Alternative leading edge moveable concepts and novel leading edge/wingbox attachment concepts, and extremely slender LE sections also have to be addressed in the design.
In Phase 1 of the programme, the problem of how to achieve an aerodynamic surface of sufficient quality to support natural laminar flow has been addressed by GKN. In particular a number of mechanical joint concepts have been evaluated against a very tight set of criteria including steps and gaps, surface finish, aerofoil profile, waviness and fastening techniques.
Phase 2 (this project) will form the basis for the further development of the concepts for a ground-based demonstrator. The work on LE design is focused into five specific development activities: Innovative Wing Leading Edge Ribs and Integrated Leading Edge Cover solutions; Kruger flap integration into the D-Nose; Continued Investigations on potential Wing Ice Protection (WIPS) solutions; Lightning Strike protection for the Leading Edge zone; Bird strike risk assessment.
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