Wind tunnel testing of a full-scale 757 tail equipped with active flow control technology demonstrated increased rudder effectiveness that could lead to the production of more drag-resistant vertical tails, according to Boeing
and NASA engineers.
The objective of the testing was to show that active flow control can improve performance of a vertical tail enough to enable future designers the ability to reduce the structure for a whole family of aircraft, NASA said. That could result in a reduction of penalties associated with the vertical tail that aircraft currently pay in drag and weight.
Testing occurred at the U.S. Air Force's 80-foot wind tunnel between September and November in Moffet Field, Calif. Advanced Technologies, a Virginia-based aerospace engineering company, assisted Boeing
with modifying a 757 vertical tail taken from an aircraft bone years in Arizona into a wind tunnel model.
"The maturation of technologies such as active flow control, which will benefit aviation by improving fuel efficiency, reducing emissions and noise levels, is what NASA's aeronautics research is all about," said Fay Collier, project manager at NASA.
Active flow control is the manipulation of a flow field through the addition of energy to improve the aerodynamic performance of an aircraft structure, according to NASA.