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Turner Sims Concert Hall

Highfield Campus

University of Southampton

Southampton

SO17 1BJ

United Kingdom

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BLADE - NATURAL LAMINAR FLOW FLIGHT TESTING

SIMON GALPIN - HEAD OF AERODYNAMICS AND VP ENGINEERING, AIRBUS
TOM GIBSON - TECHNICAL COMPETENCE LEADER, COMPONENT AERODYNAMICS, AIRBUS

The BLADE project – which stands for “Breakthrough Laminar Aircraft Demonstrator in Europe” – is tasked with assessing the feasibility of introducing laminar flow 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 emissions.

Historically, research into natural laminar flow has been based on a combination of wind tunnel tests and limited flight tests. Due to scaling effects, contaminants that may significantly impact aerodynamic performance on a full size aircraft are too small to model in a wind tunnel. Due to the expense of making significant aircraft modifications, full scale tests are usually limited to tail surfaces or ‘gloves’ adhered to existing wing surfaces, which are constrained by the underlying geometry. BLADE, part of the Smart Fixed Wing Aircraft project of the Clean Sky consortium, takes a huge leap forward by replacing the entire outer wing of an Airbus A340-300 airliner with an optimised aerofoil and internal structure.

Simon and Tom will discuss the challenges of modifying a full sized airliner to develop this technology, how the test programme has improved our understanding of laminar flow and what this means for the future of aircraft design.


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Turner Sims Concert Hall

Highfield Campus

University of Southampton

Southampton

SO17 1BJ

United Kingdom

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