Innovators at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center have applied a novel peak-seeking control algorithm to improve performance during formation-flight-for-drag-reduction by optimizing an airplane’s spanwise lift distribution. During stabilized flight within the energy-rich portion of a lead aircraft’s wake vortices, variations in the upwash field along the trailing aircraft's wing produce a strong rolling moment. Modern aircraft control trim schedules are not designed to recover fuel-saving energy from this rolling moment. The Dryden innovation optimizes the trimmed spanwise lift distribution of a wing in formation flight for minimum drag by:
While formation-flight-for-drag-reduction can reduce fuel burn by 10% or more, optimizing the spanwise lift distribution in this operating environment can further reduce fuel use.
NASA has one patent pending for this technology.
This technology is part of NASA’s technology transfer program. The program seeks to stimulate broad commercial use/application of NASA-developed technologies. NASA is flexible in its agreements, and opportunities exist for licensing and joint development. Dryden is interested in a partnership to commercialize this technology.
If you would like more information about this technology or about NASA’s technology transfer program, please contact:Innovative Partnerships Office