Mary L. Sandy Headquarters, Washington, D.C. (Phone: 202/453-2754) H. Keith Henry Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

(Phone: 804/864-6120) RELEASE: 90-115

August 23, 1990

FLIGHT TESTS PROVE CONCEPT FOR JETLINER FUEL ECONOMY The aerodynamic efficiency of future aircraft may improve sharply due to better-than-expected findings from a joint government-industry flight test program concluded this month. Such improved flight efficiency would result in reduced fuel consumption and lower operational costs for the U.S. airline industry. Boeing modified a 22-foot section of a Boeing-757's wing outboard of the left engine and performed all the flight tests. Laminar air flow was achieved over the first 65 percent of the upper surface of the modified wing section, measured from the leading edge to the trailing edge of the wing, the first time the suction system was used and on all subsequent flights during the 5-month test period. If the entire span of both wings was modified, a reduction in total airplane drag of up to 10 percent or more, depending on the application, could be realized. Each percent of drag eliminated by the U.S. transport fleet represents an estimated savings in fuel costs to the U.S. airline industry of $100 million annually. NASA, Boeing and Air Force officials hailed the flight tests

as one of the most significant events in the history of boundary-layer control. "We've known for years that laminar flow could be obtained under ideal conditions," Boeing Program Manager A. L. "Del" Nagel explained. "The real problem has been the difficulty of manufacturing sufficiently smooth permeable wing structure at reasonable cost. Now we've shown that we can do that." - more -2The research was aimed at preventing much of the turbulence that occurs naturally in the thin boundary layer of air at the surface of an aircraft's wing. Turbulence over the wing increases skin-friction drag, requiring the aircraft to use more fuel. In contrast, a smooth or "laminar" air flow significantly improves aerodynamic efficiency by reducing drag, which results in lower fuel consumption. The program is the first to demonstrate "hybrid laminar flow control" (HLFC) in flight. Early investigations in the 1930's and 1940's showed that careful shaping of wings could achieve some laminar flow. But this "natural" laminar flow works only under restricted conditions. A more powerful technique, called laminar flow control, pulls a small amount of the boundary layer air through a porous or slotted wing skin by means of a suction system. Laminar flow control has limitations, too. The holes or slots along major portions of the wing could compromise structural soundness or get clogged by insects or dirt. NASA and Boeing met this challenge by developing a variation called hybrid laminar flow control that limits the air extraction system to the leading edge, followed by a run of natural laminar flow. The suction surface was a titanium skin with approximately 19 million tiny laser-drilled, closely spaced holes. A leading edge "Krueger" flap was integrated into the wing high-lift system to serve as an insect shield during takeoffs and landings. The design incorporated innovations from earlier laminar flow projects using a NASA C-140 JetStar and the Air Force's X-21 research airplane. It also used the detailed data base gathered during NASA's F-14 Variable Sweep Transition Flight Experiment

and the agency's 757 Natural Laminar Flow and Wing Noise Program. NASA is considering a possible future flight test that would look at application of hybrid laminar flow at the inboard parts of the wings. Greater drag reduction is anticipated on new aircraft with hybrid laminar flow incorporated in their initial designs. Government and industry researchers believe that HLFC technology could be introduced in new aircraft designs during this decade. The program was jointly funded by NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, Seattle, and the U.S. Air Force Wright Research and Development Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

TO: MDS/PRA Group 1615 L Street, N.W. - Suite 100 Washington, D.C. 20036 DATE & TIME: AUGUST 23, 1990 ORDERED BY: Edward Campion NASA Headquarters/LMD 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20546 PHONE: 202/453-8400 PROJECT TITLE: Release No: 90-115 PRINT ORDER: 2302 PRINTING: Camera Ready, lst pg on NASA logo, other pages plain ENCLOSE & MAIL: Release of 2 pages MAIL DATE: AUGUST 23, 1990 EXTRA COPIES: 50 copies -------------------Deliver specified quanities to locations below: 275 copies 75 copies ------------------- -----------------

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