NASA is developing and validating a system that will allow part of an aircraft’s wing to fold in flight to increase efficiency through wing adaptation.
Engineers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, Langley Research Center in Virginia, and Glenn Research Center in Ohio, are working on the Spanwise Adaptive Wing concept, or SAW. The concept would permit the outboard portions of the wings to move to the optimal position during operation. This could increase efficiency by reducing drag and increasing lift and performance.
Through advanced actuation, SAW aims to use control surfaces to allow the outboard portions of wings to adapt as much as 75 degrees, to optimally meet the demands of the various conditions throughout a flight. A mechanical joint, acting as a hinge line for rotation, makes the freedom of movement possible.