New bendable, “morphing” wing.
An airplane with a morphing wing can change the geometric shape of its wing during flight and optimize its performance based on mission requirements.
This system was quite different than the separate, hinged flaps and ailerons that have performed those functions on most aircraft ever since. But now, thanks to some high-tech wizardry developed by engineers at MIT and NASA, some aircraft may be returning to their roots, with a new kind of bendable, “morphing” wing.
The “skin” of the wing also enhances the structure’s performance. It’s made from overlapping strips of flexible material, layered somewhat like feathers or fish scales, allowing for the pieces to move across each other as the wing flexes, while still providing a smooth outer surface.
One of this system’s big advantages, in principle, is that when it’s no longer needed, the whole structure can be taken apart into its component parts, which can then be reassembled into something completely different. Similarly, repairs could be made by simply replacing an area of damaged subunits.
“An inspection robot could just find where the broken part is and replace it, and keep the aircraft 100 percent healthy at all times,”
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