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Optimizing Aircraft Effectors in Real Time to Reduce Drag and Improve Flight Performance
February 5, 2013

    › Benefits
    › Applications
    › Commercial Opportunity
    › Contact Information

Innovators at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center have applied a novel peak-seeking algorithm to optimize an airplane's performance. This technology reduces aircraft drag by adaptively determining the optimal trim configuration of the aircraft's effectors based on real-time in-flight measurements as flight conditions change. Effector configurations are typically developed via high-fidelity analytical modeling for a particular aircraft configuration. However, this approach does not account for variations in individual aircraft built. Armstrong's algorithm enables optimization for an individual aircraft in its actual environment, for flight optimization and increased cost-savings.

This algorithm has also been extended to multi-effector solutions, which can further improve fuel savings. The technology can be integrated into new aircraft designs or implemented on existing airplanes through software and/or mechanical modification.


  • Efficient: Potentially shortens development time and improves flight test efficiency
  • Cost-saving: Reduces aircraft fuel consumption
  • Environmentally friendly: Lowers aircraft emissions by using less fuel
  • Comprehensive: Allows for optimization of multiple aircraft effectors simultaneously


  • Commercial aviation and related development and manufacturing
  • Commercial carriers (air transport and cargo)

Commercial Opportunity

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. Armstrong is interested in a partnership to commercialize this technology.

Contact Information

If you would like more information about this technology or about NASA's technology transfer program, please contact:

Technology Transfer Office
NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center
PO Box 273, M/S 1100
Edwards, CA 93523-0273
Phone: (661) 276-3368
E-mail: DFRC-TTO@mail.nasa.gov

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Page Last Updated: November 11th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator