BAE Systems, University of Manchester have completed the first phase of flight trials with MAGMA, a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which uses a unique blown-air system to manoeuvre the aircraft allowing stealthier aircraft designs.
The new concept removes the conventional need for complex, mechanical moving parts used to move flaps to control the aircraft during flight. This could give greater control as well as reduce weight and maintenance costs, allowing for lighter, stealthier, faster and more efficient military and civil aircraft in the future.
The two technologies to be trialled first using the jet-powered UAV, MAGMA, are:
-Wing Circulation Control, which takes air from the aircraft engine and blows it supersonically through the trailing edge of the wing to provide control for the aircraft.
-Fluidic Thrust Vectoring, which uses blown air to deflect the exhaust, allowing for the direction of the aircraft to be changed.
Further flight trials are planned for the coming months to demonstrate the novel flight control technologies with the ultimate aim of flying the aircraft without any moving control surfaces or fins. If successful, the tests will demonstrate the first ever use of such circulation control in flight on a gas turbine aircraft and from a single engine.
Clyde Warsop, Engineering Fellow here at BAE Systems, said: “The technologies we are developing with The University of Manchester will make it possible to design cheaper, higher performance, next generation aircraft.”
Bill Crowther, a senior academic and leader of the MAGMA project at The University of Manchester, adds: “These trials are an important step forward in our efforts to explore adaptable airframes. What we are seeking to do through this programme is truly ground-breaking.”
Additional technologies to improve the performance of the UAV are being explored in collaboration with the University of Arizona and NATO Science and Technology Organization.