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Volume 46 | Issue 6 | July 2004


3 Dryden Projects Receive TGIR Awards

By Alan Brown
Dryden News Chief

Three flight research projects that Dryden led or participated in were cited recently in NASA's annual Turning Goals Into Reality awards program, for contributions made in advancing the technology of aeronautics.

The Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology project team was honored for their contributions in exploring revolutionary aeronautics concepts in the area of remotely operated, unmanned aerial vehicle technology. During the nine-year course of the project, which was concluded in September 2003, the ERAST project contributed to development of a range of aerodynamic, propulsion, control system and communications technologies that benefited the maturing of high-altitude, long-endurance UAVs. The award was presented to 25 members of the ERAST Alliance that participated in the Dryden-led project, including the four NASA research centers and other government and industry team members.

The Active Aeroelastic Wing project and the Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration projects at Dryden shared an award for partnerships that enhance national security with the Abrupt Wing Stall project team, headed by Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

The Active Aeroelastic Wing project, due to begin the second phase of flight tests this fall, was cited for partnerships with Langley, the Air Force Research Laboratory and The Boeing Company. Research in the AAW project explores positive control of lighter-weight flexible wings for maneuvering, a technology that could lead to lighter structures, increasing both fuel efficiency and range or payloads for future military and commercial aircraft.

The Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration last year brought together NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an industry team headed by Northrop Grumman Corp. and several other military agencies to study how the intensity of sonic booms can be lessened by modifying the shape of an aircraft.

Dryden provided a modified F-15B equipped with sensors that flew behind the SSBD test aircraft, a modified F-5E provided by the U.S. Navy, to measure sonic boom characteristics at various distances and orientations. Dryden engineers also recorded the intensity of the sonic boom overpressures from both the test aircraft and an unmodified F-5E with an elaborate array of ground microphones and sensors. This flight test confirmation of laboratory research could eventually lead to supersonic aircraft with greatly reduced sonic boom characteristics being allowed to fly over land instead of being restricted to flight over oceans.

Working with the Navy, Air Force and several industry partners, the Langley-led Abrupt Wing Stall project devised new techniques for predicting potentially serious wing drop, an abrupt, uncommanded rolling motion experienced by many high-performance aircraft such as the F/A-18E/F during flight test. Technology developed in the AWS project, which focused in improved wind tunnel methods and assessing computational tools that would prevent the phenomenon, already has benefited the military's Joint Strike Fighter next-generation aircraft program.

The three flight research projects in which Dryden had a role were among 17 aerospace technology and educational outreach projects honored at the sixth annual Turning Goals Into Reality awards ceremonies July 14 at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport in Virginia.