An Integrated Conceptual Design Study using Span Morphing Technology

RM Ajaj (Southampton University), MI Friswell (Swansea University), EI Saavedra Flores (Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Chile), AJ Keane (Southampton University), AT Isikveren (Bauhaus Luftfahrt e.V., Germany), G Allegri (University of Bristol) & S Adhikari (Swansea University)

Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, Vol. 25, No. 8, May 2014, pp. 989-1008


A comprehensive conceptual design study is performed to assess the potential benefits of span morphing technology and to determine its feasibility when incorporated on medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAVs. A representative MALE UAV based on the BAE Systems Herti UAV was selected. Stability and control benefits are investigated by operating the morphing span asymmetrically to replace conventional ailerons. The Tornado Vortex Lattice Method (VLM) was incorporated for aerodynamic predictions. The sensitivity of rolling moment generated by span morphing for different flight parameters (instantaneous vehicular weight and angle of attack) is studied. The variation of roll rate (steady and transient response) with span morphing (for constant rolling moment) for different rolling strategies (extension and retraction) are investigated. It turns out that the optimum rolling strategy is to extend one side of the wing by 22% while retract the other by 22%. Operational performance benefits are investigated by operating the morphing span symmetrically to reduce drag, increase endurance, and reduce take-off and landing distances. 22% symmetric span morphing reduces the total drag by 13%, enhances the endurance capability by 6.5%, and reduces the take-off field length and landing distance by 28% and 10% respectively.

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Link to paper using doi: 10.1177/1045389X13502869

Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures