The goal of the Performance Adaptive Aeroelastic Wing (PAAW) program is to research and develop a future commercial aircraft wing that continuously optimizes its shape for current flight conditions and aircraft configuration. This approach could maximize lift for takeoff, minimize fuel consumption in cruise, or maximize lift and drag for landing. This wing will be high aspect ratio with conformal control surfaces. A build-up approach, called “Research through Development” will be employed, emphasizing frequent flight testing while building up complexity. Flight tests on two 10 - 14 ft wingspan research aircraft, mAEWing1 and mAEWing2, will occur at the University of Minnesota followed by testing on the 28 ft wingspan X-56A aircraft with a set of wings, xAEWing3. Finally, a full-scale morphing aircraft will be designed, N+3 Concepts.

Specifically, the high level goals for each step of the Research through Development process is:

  • mAEWing1
    • Flutter suppression and open-loop wing shape modification
    • Optimal control allocation
  • mAEWing2
    • Multidisciplinary Design Analysis and Optimization (MDAO) driven design
    • Flutter suppression, open-loop wing shape modification, and optimal control allocation with optimized structure, control effectors, and sensors
    • Conformal mold line
  • xAEWing3
    • Demonstrate MDAO design, flutter suppression, open-loop shape modification, optimal control allocation, and conformal mold line on wing with a commercial aircraft representative structure
    • Sense and feedback wing shape to provide closed-loop shape control
    • Implement a peak-seeking control law to adapt wing shape to optimize an objective (maximize lift for takeoff, minimize fuel burn in cruise, and maximize lift and drag for landing)
    • Vary vehicle weight and flight condition to demonstrate performance adaptation
  • N+3 Concepts
    • Use validated design tools to extend design to full scale commercial aircraft
    • Host workshop on performance adaptive aeroelastic wings