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November 2005 edition

Aircraft boosted by the sound of music

An Australian aerospace engineer has developed a technique that boosts aircraft lift by using sound to control air flow over wings.

According to its developer, Ian Salmon, aircraft development engineer at Qantas Airways, the discovery would allow UAVs and light aircraft to benefit from smaller, more efficient wings that reduce weight and fuel consumption without increasing the chance of the aircraft stalling.

Flexible plastic panels fitted to the wing vibrate when an electric current passes through them, producing barely audible sound. At certain frequencies the air passing over the wing can be manipulated so that it remains more closely aligned to it, increasing efficiency and giving a boost in lift of up to 22 per cent compared with a traditional wing.

The system is unlikely to be useful....

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