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Winglet technology by FACC.

FACC presents latest winglet technology

To mark the 60th anniversary of its opening, blue danube airport in Linz was holding an "Aviation Day" last Saturday. FACC was joining in the celebrations and using this opportunity to present its latest development in the winglet sector, "Active Morphing Winglets".

"These actively controlled wingtips have the potential to further reduce civil aircraft fuel consumption by about 2.5 percent compared with conventional winglets," said Walter Stephan, Chairman of FACC AG, pointing out the benefits of this invention. "However, people living near airports will also benefit from the innovation: Thanks to improved aerodynamics, the novel winglets ensure lower noise levels during take-off and landing. A technology to make flying more efficient and greener in future."

High-tech winglets from FACC

Winglet is the name for the bent-up extension to the wingtip. They reduce the development of air vortices at the wingtips, thereby decreasing drag significantly. The results are lower fuel consumption plus lower noise and pollutant emissions. FACC manufactures wingtips for various types of aircraft and played a major role in the development of the latest winglet technologies, the Blended Winglets with a continuous bend from the root to the tip, and the Split Scimitar Winglet with a ventral fin attached underneath for even less drag. Airlines around the world have so far saved 18.5 billion liters of kerosene with these classic, rigid wingtips, one of FACC's key products.

With its latest innovation, the "Active Morphing Winglet", FACC has set winglet technology in motion. This new, actively controlled winglet from FACC adapts automatically to the respective flight conditions, thereby reducing fuel consumption even further and increasing flight safety. The innovation features a control flap that adjusts itself in real time to suit the current conditions. This also ensures optimal aerodynamics for the fuel-intensive take-off and landing procedures, as well as reducing noise and pollutant emissions. In cruising flight, the aircraft is further stabilized in crosswinds and gusts. A freely warping (morphing) gap covering covers the gap produced when the control flap emerges and ensures aerodynamically optimized geometries in every setting. This variability of the wing geometry compensates for the additional load caused by winglets in the central and outer wing structure, making structural reinforcement of the wing unnecessary when winglets are added. Control unit, sensors, and actuators are accommodated in the smallest of spaces. Integration of the gap covering in an airworthy design and implementation of a maximum oscillation rate of 60 Hertz without stalling represent a milestone in aeronautical design.

The benefits of this innovation also include a substantial reduction in various environmental effects. The new generation of Active Morphing Winglets saves around 2.5% more fuel than the rigid solutions. Noise emissions are reduced by about 2 decibels, thereby ensuring lower noise levels in the vicinity of airports. The shorter, active winglets provide an additional advantage over conventional, horizontal wing extensions in terms of maneuverability at the airport. Winglets extend the wing surface vertically, thereby saving space, increasing efficiency, and ultimately optimizing airport utilization. The Active Morphing Winglet prototype has already been subjected to intensive wind-tunnel tests. These confirmed the improved performance of the new winglets in realistic flight conditions. Test results are currently being evaluated by aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

The active winglets are already regarded as a potential successor to the current winglet generation. FACC is spearheading development of the winglets of the future and driving this auspicious innovation ever forwards. "Currently, low fuel prices may be relieving the pressure on airlines to implement energy-saving technologies," said Walter Stephan. "However, we are convinced that the aspects of efficiency and environmental protection will continue to be key issues and that airlines will increasingly have to come to grips with forward-looking technologies such as active winglets."

An international research collaboration offered the development engineers a platform for constructive interaction between the partners in the joint research project. FACC worked together in developing the actively controlled winglets with Airbus Group Innovations, the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (Fraunhofer IFAM) and the Spanish research center for composite materials (FIDAMC).

Press release issued by FACC AG on October 5, 2015


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