Design and Analysis of a Multi-Section Variable Camber Wing

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Minimizing fuel consumption is one of the major concerns in the aviation industry. In the past decade, there have been many attempts to improve the fuel efficiency of aircraft. One of the methods proposed is to vary the lift-to-drag ratio of the aircraft in different flight conditions. To achieve this, the wing of the airplane must be able to change its configuration during flight, corresponding to different flight regimes.

In the research presented in this thesis, the aerodynamic characteristics of a multi-section, variable camber wing were investigated. The model used in this research had a 1-ft chord and a 1-ft wingspan, with the ribs divided into 6 sections. Two pneumatic actuators located at the main spar were used to morph the wing through mechanical linkages.

The wing was tested in the free-jet wind tunnel at three different Reynolds numbers: 322000, 48000, and 636000. Static tests were performed to obtain lift and drag data for different configurations. Two rigid wings in baseline and camber configuration were built and tested to compare the test data with variable camber wing. The wind tunnel test results indicated that the multi-section variable camber wing provided a higher lift than the rigid wing in both configurations whereas high drag was also generated on the variable camber wing due to friction drag on the wing skin.