Morphing Aircraft Technology - New Shapes for Aircraft Design
PURDUE UNIV LAFAYETTE IN
Pagination or Media Count:
Morphing aircraft are multi-role aircraft that change their external shape substantially to adapt to a changing mission environment during flight. This creates superior system capabilities not possible without morphing shape changes. The objective of morphing activities is to develop high performance aircraft with wings designed to change shape and performance substantially during flight to create multiple-regime, aerodynamically-efficient, shape-changing aircraft. Compared to conventional aircraft, morphing aircraft become more competitive as more mission tasks or roles are added to their requirements. This paper will review the history of morphing aircraft, describe a recent DARPA program, recently completed, and identify critical technologies required to enable morphing. As indicated in Figure 1, designing and building aircraft shape changing components is not new. In the past, aircraft have used variable sweep, retractable landing gear, retractable flaps and slats, and variable incidence noses. However, recent work in smart materials and adaptive structures has led to a resurgence of interest in more substantial shape changes, particularly changes in wing surface area and controlled airfoil camber.