Airplane designers have long admired how birds reshape their wings for soaring, diving, and maneuvering. Now, a prototype aircraft wing has demonstrated in its first flight tests that its morphing might save fuel.
In a series of evaluations that began in October and ended last week, subtle shape-shifting by the wing's trailing edge minimized fuel-wasting air resistance, or drag, at a variety of altitudes, speeds, wing angles, and other conditions, says aeronautical engineer Russell F. Osborn Jr. of the Ann Arbor, Mich.–based company FlexSys, which created the wing.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.