Don Nolan-Proxmire October 17, 1995 Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1983) Don Haley Dryden Flight

Research Center, Edwards, CA (Phone: 805/258-3456) Keith Henry Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA (Phone: 804/864-6120)

RELEASE: 95-184 NASA FLIGHTS WILL TEST BREAKTHROUGH AIRPLANE CONCEPT NASA has begun flight testing an experimental aircraft wing panel that may lead to a revolutionary way of improving the aerodynamics and fuel consumption on large future supersonic aircraft. The goal of the project is to achieve what is called laminar, or smooth, air flow over the surface of an aircraftÕs wing while flying supersonic. Researchers say that laminar flow conditions can reduce aerodynamic drag, or friction, and contribute to reduced operating costs by improving fuel consumption and lowering aircraft weight. If the NASA project is successful, a method of maintaining laminar flow control could be incorporated into the design of the High Speed Civil Transport (HSCT), a conceptual supersonic airliner of the future that would carry 300 passengers at 2.4 times the speed of sound. ÒThis is a very important event in the history of aerodynamics. If we are successful, supersonic laminar flow control will revolutionize flight,Ó said Jeffrey Lavell, project manager of the F-16XL Supersonic Laminar Flow Control (SLFC) flight experiment at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA. Langley manages the project, which is part of the agencyÕs High-Speed Research Program dedicated to producing technologies helpful to the development of a

supersonic passenger jet.

-more-2Flights with the SLFC experiment are being carried out at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, using an F-16XL, which has a large delta wing. The wingÕs shape is similar to the design that likely will be used on the HSCT, making the F-16XL an excellent testbed for the laminar flow research project. A large panel, called a glove, has been attached to the upper surface of the test aircraftÕs left wing. The titanium panel has been perforated with more than 10 million laser-cut holes, while below the panel is a suction system linked to a compressor. Natural aerodynamic drag on an aircraft wing is caused by the friction of a thin turbulent layer of air moving across the wingÕs surface. During coming research flights with the modified F-16XL, the suction system will pull that thin layer of turbulent air through the gloveÕs porous surface to create a smooth laminar flow. The area below the glove has been divided into 20 sections, and the strength of the suction in each compartment can be controlled individually to attain specified conditions during the research flights. The manager of the SLFC project at Dryden, Marta BohnMeyer, said that up to 70 flights are planned, with as many as 30 to be flown before the end of 1995. Most of the research flights will be at speeds of Mach 2 (1,400 mph) and altitudes of 35,000 to 50,000 feet, the proposed range for the HSCT. NASA project officials hope to have enough favorable data by December to give HSCT designers confidence to consider the use of SLFC when they meet then to study possible technologies to incorporate into that aircraft.

The SLFC experiment represents a collaborative effort between NASA and the aerospace industry. A team composed of Boeing, Rockwell and McDonnell Douglas designed the wing panel and suction system. The panel was assembled at a Boeing facility, Seattle, WA, while the suction system was fabricated by McDonnell Douglas, Long Beach, CA. NOTE TO EDITORS: Color artist concepts of the HSCT are available by calling the Langley Research Center at 804/8646123. Photos of the F16XL aircraft are available by calling the Dryden Flight Research Center at (805) 258-3449. - end NASA press releases and other information are available automatically by sending an Internet electronic mail message to In the body of the message (not the subject line) users should type the words "subscribe pressrelease" (no quotes). The system will reply with a confirmation via E-mail of each subscription. A second automatic message will include additional information on the service. Questions should be directed to (202) 358-4043.