Subscribe Free
in Air Transport

Airbus' “BLADE” laminar flow wing demonstrator makes first flight

Posted 26 September 2017 · Add Comment

Airbus' A340 laminar-flow “BLADE” test demonstrator aircraft (A340-30) has made its successful maiden flight for the EU-sponsored Clean Sky “Blade” project.

The aircraft, dubbed “Flight Lab”, took off from the Tarbes aerodrome in southern France at local time 11:00, and after a series of successful tests it landed at Airbus’ facilities in Toulouse Blagnac. The overall flight time was 3hrs/38mins.

The BLADE project – which stands for “Breakthrough Laminar Aircraft Demonstrator in Europe” – is tasked with assessing the feasibility of introducing the technology for commercial aviation. It aims to improve aviation’s ecological footprint, bringing with it a 50% reduction of wing friction and up to five percent lower CO2 emission. Airbus’ A340 Flight Lab is the first test aircraft in the world to combine a transonic laminar wing profile with a true internal primary structure.

On the outside the aircraft is fitted with two representative transonic laminar outer-wings, while inside the cabin a highly complex specialist flight-test-instrumentation (FTI) station has been installed. The extensive modifications to the A340-300 test-bed aircraft took place during the course of a 16-month working party in Tarbes, with the support of numerous industrial partners across Europe. Today’s first-flight marks the kick-off of the Blade flight-test campaign to explore the wing’s characteristics in flight. 

“We began by opening the flight envelope to check that the aircraft was handling correctly,” explains Airbus Flight-Test Engineer, Philippe Seve, who was on board the flight. “We achieved our objective to fly at the design Mach number, at a reasonable altitude and check everything was fine. We also checked that the FTI was working as expected, to identify further fine-tuning for the next flights.”

In the run-up to the start of this flight-testing phase, a small team of 10 specially trained pilots, test engineers and flight test engineers had prepared for this milestone for several months, spending time in a simulator and familiarising themselves with the FTI systems to be installed on the Airbus flight-test aircraft. Moreover, on equipment installation side, a working party of 70 people performed the FTI installation inside the aircraft, while teams from Bremen, Germany and Broughton, UK worked externally on the outer wings, with a team from Stade Germany, installing a pod containing infrared cameras on the fin. 

On the wings, there are hundreds of points to measure the waviness of the surface to help Airbus’ engineers ascertain its influence on the laminarity – which is the first time that Airbus has used such a testing method on an aircraft. Other ‘firsts’ are the use of infrared cameras inside the pod to measure wing temperature and the acoustic generator which measures the influence of acoustics on laminarity. In addition, there is also an innovative reflectometry system, which measures overall deformation in real-time during flight.

A key goal of Blade is to be able to measure the tolerances and imperfections which can be present and still sustain laminarity. To this end, Airbus will simulate every type of imperfection in a controlled manner, so that at the end of the campaign the tolerances for building a laminar wing will be fully known. The flight Lab will perform around 150 flight hours in the coming months.

 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

Something in the Air at Salam

Just a year into its life as one of the Gulf’s newest low-cost carriers, Oman’s SalamAir has plans for major expansions of both its fleet and route network.

3-D printed parts and new materials help Rolls-Royce to engine test success

Rolls-Royce’s Advance3 engine is helping pioneer the future of civil aerospace – with 3D printed parts and the introduction of new materials helping to lead the way.

Spatial commissioned by Pegasus Airlines to build A321NX Over Wing Exit Trainer

Spatial, a provider of cabin crew training simulators, has announced that it was commissioned by Pegasus Airlines to build an A321NX Over Wing Exit Trainer.

UAE Space Agency joins International Space Education Board

The UAE’s representation on the ISEB will provide the first regional input to the group’s objectives of increasing literacy in space and related STEM fields, as well as supporting the development of advanced skills that will be required

Kuwait Airways latest to take A330neo

The national carrier of the state of Kuwait, Kuwait Airways, has signed a Purchase Agreement for eight A330-800 aircraft, with Yousef Al-Jassim, Kuwait Airways Chairman and Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer,

KhalifaSat countdown begins

The team from Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) are looking relaxed ahead of the planned October 29 launch of KhalifaSat. They are in Japan to conduct the final tests on the satellite as it was prepared for the mating with the launch

DomainH_SK2808161118
See us at
AviationShowBT1110141118MarrakechAirshow BT2507241018Aviation Africa BT0607280219MAPS18_BT1207131118BIAS BT271017161118AIME19BTA3005120219MEBAA BT1004121218GATM BT1004061118