Airbus eXtra Performance Wing Demonstrator Gets Closer to Its First Test Flight

Airbus is one step closer to flying its eXtra Performance Wing demonstrator as part of its ongoing efforts to rapidly advance innovative technologies set to decarbonize the aviation industry. The wing demonstrator has recently completed wind-tunnel testing at the company’s Filton site.

Launched last year in September, the eXtra Performance Wing is a flying demonstrator that draws inspiration from nature to improve wing aerodynamics and the aircraft’s performance. It is designed to be compatible with any future aircraft configuration and propulsion option and significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

To increase efficiency, Airbus is testing wing technologies that are based on the wings and feathers of a soaring eagle. Just like AlbatrossONE – a project that tested wingtips that could flap like a bird during turbulence – the eXtra Performance Wing will also examine new technologies, including gust sensors, pop-up spoilers, and multifunctional trailing edges that modify wing surface in flight.

This scaled demonstrator will integrate these wing technologies on a Cessna Citation VII business jet platform in representative flight conditions. But before the jet takes to the skies, engineers need to verify the concepts with the help of the state-of-the-art low-speed wind tunnel at Filton, near Bristol.

Over the years, wind tunnels have been used to successfully validate groundbreaking aerodynamic principles. They work by replicating flying conditions in a controlled environment, and they have also been used by other companies to test F1 cars, ship radar systems, and other types of aircraft.

“The partly 3D-printed wind-tunnel model – expertly built by the aerodynamics team at Airbus’ low-speed, wind-tunnel facility in Bristol – is a scaled-down version of the Cessna jet, incorporating the lightweight, long-span design of the eXtra Performance Wing that will provide the emissions benefits we are striving for,” said Oliver Family, Head of eXtra Performance Wing UK.

These recent wind tunnel tests helped evaluate the aircraft’s performance and capabilities prior to further testing, allowing technologies to be rapidly integrated.

Courtesy of Florina Spînu from Auto Evolution

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