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Dassault Aviation Evaluates Laminar Designs in Flight

Part Of Europe’s Clean Sky Research Program

Dassault Aviation recently performed a successful flight test to evaluate potential applications of a laminar wing for large business jets. The flight was performed with a Falcon 7X at Dassault’s Flight Test Center in Istres, France. The tests are part of the "Smart Fixed Wing Aircraft", one of the Integrated Technology Demonstrators of the European Clean Sky Initiative. Clean Sky, one of Europe’s largest research initiatives ever, aims to develop technologies for cleaner and quieter next-generation aircraft which will enter service beyond 2020.

The flight evaluated a new infrared (IR) camera technology, developed by FLIR, which is capable of measuring temperature gradients in high altitude/low temperature and pressure environment. The camera measured differences in surface temperatures between laminar and turbulent areas of the horizontal tail plane on the Falcon 7X. While the Falcon 7X is not based on a laminar design, at high altitudes a laminarity of up to 40% was predicted on the upper surface of the horizontal tail. Measurements from the IR camera placed at the top of the vertical tail were performed to provide experimental validation.

”The results, which are still under analysis by Dassault Aviation and ONERA, (the French national aerospace research center) do show laminar extensions as expected,” said Philippe Rostand, Future Falcon Programs Project Manager. “The tests also permitted us to qualify new measurements techniques and equipment that will be used in future test flights to be flown by Dassault, Airbus and the other European partners on an even larger scale, such as the ‘smart laminar wing’ that will be flight tested in 2014 on a modified Airbus A340-300 test aircraft.”

Among other aerodynamic innovations, a laminar wing offers the largest potential for a dramatic decrease in drag. Laminar wings are currently only used on sail planes and small business jets. Initial studies indicate a potential 5-10% drag decrease and corresponding reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions with a laminar wing design on a large aircraft. Demonstrations and analysis on a larger scale have yet to be performed to confirm possible  efficient and safe application on larger aircraft.

Dassault Aviation previously performed a series of successful test flights with an experimental laminar airfoil from 1986-1989 on a modified Falcon 50. “Today, better measurement tools and production methods are in place to implement what we’ve learned so that we can someday bring these exciting findings into reality,” said Rostand.

FMI: www.cleansky.eu, www.falconjet.com

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