NASA innovates tech for fuel efficient air transportation
One area where NASA has been placing a fair amount of its research focus is in developing design features that allow for reductions in an aircraft’s weight and the amount of drag it creates. The aeronautical research agency has entered into a partnership with the Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) of Seattle, WA, to test a couple of fuel efficiency technologies on a special Boeing 757 model known as the ecoDemonstrator. One NASA project utilizing the ecoDemonstrator is the Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project, which explores the benefits and risks of new vehicle design concepts. On the Boeing ecoDemonstrator, NASA installed a series of 31 sweeping jet actuators which are capable of on-demand manipulation of airflow over the vertical tail of an aircraft. The use of the sweeping jets would provide the stability and directional control usually supplied by the aircraft’s vertical tail, allowing manufacturers to reduce the tail’s size and the overall drag of the aircraft. A separate ERA project involving the ecoDemonstrator will test the insect repellant properties of various repellents for an Insect Accretion and Mitigation study. Even a small bug can disrupt the laminar flow of air over the leading edge of a wing, increasing drag and reducing fuel efficiency by as much as six percent. The Insect Accretion and Mitigation study will take place between April 27th and May 15th near the area of Shreveport, LA.