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CubCrafters' research shows lift potential of slat system
Wednesday, 14 June 2023
The technology combines electric ducted fans with leading edge lifting slats, to accelerate airflow over the wing. Ongoing testing points to a likelihood for significant reductions in takeoff and landing distances.

CubCrafters, a leading designer and manufacturer of Light-Sportand Part 23 Certified aircraft, is testing a new engineering innovation, called Electric Lift Augmenting Slats [ELAS], that the company conceived to dramatically increase wing lift.

Recognizing the potentially broad application for this new ELAS technology, NASA awarded CubCrafters two research grants (through the SBIR/STTR program) to partially fund the project.

ELAS, which was granted US Patent 10,926,868, underscores CubCrafters' four decades of commitment to engineering innovation for the aviation industry. The technology combines electric ducted fans with leading edge lifting slats, to accelerate airflow over the wing of an aircraft. Ongoing testing points to a likelihood for significant reductions in takeoff and landing distances on fixed-wing aircraft with ELAS installed.

By increasing the velocity of the airflow over the top surface of a wing, ELAS lowers the air pressure above the wing, thereby increasing the lift it can generate. The system also allows the wing to achieve better aerodynamic performance at slower speeds and higher angles of attack, reducing the stall speed of the aircraft and improving its slow speed handling characteristics.

ELAS is a practical way to enable fixed-wing aircraft to achieve shorter takeoff distances, steeper approaches, slower landing speeds, and minimal ground roll. By adding leading edge slats with multiple integrated electric ducted fans, ELAS creates high energy airflow through and around the slats -- airflow that ultimately boosts lift by a factor of 1.5 to 4.0 depending on the airfoil geometry and flight conditions.

Patrick Horgan, CEO of CubCrafters explains, “With comparatively low acquisition and operational costs, ELAS is a disruptive concept that carries unprecedented benefits, including enabling fixed-wing aircraft to operate outside of designated airports and manage much higher payloads versus comparable eVTOL aircraft - all while enhancing safety.”

The technology can be added to an existing airframe or built into the wings as original equipment, and can be designed as retractable when not in use.

The company notes that ELAS is being rigorously tested in collaboration with CubCrafters' research institution partner, Oklahoma State University School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering.

“Extensive computer simulations and wind tunnel testing, both at Oklahoma State University and our own facilities, are being used to refine the design in preparation for a comprehensive test flight program using a CubCrafters X-Cub test airplane configured with the ELAS prototype system,” declares Horgan.

“As our research and development continues, ELAS may prove to have the ability to dramatically enhance the short field performance capabilities of fixed-wing aircraft in general Aviation as well as Commercial Aviation.”

Contact details from our directory:
Cub Crafters Inc. Airframer
Related aircraft programs:
CubCrafters XCub