Freely flapping wing-tips on future aircraft just took a leap forward

The AlbatrossONE demonstrator has successfully achieved a new milestone: a “gate-to-gate” demonstration with wing-tips that are 75% longer than those tested in the first phase. This latest flight test campaign proves freely flapping wing-tips can alleviate wing loads and avoid tip stall for improved aircraft performance.

Thanks to its uncanny ability to travel over long distances with little fatigue, the albatross seabird has a lot to teach aeronautical engineers about improving aircraft performance. And the Airbus AlbatrossONE project team is taking keen interest in this majestic seabird, putting the principles of freely flapping wing-tips—capable of reacting and flexing to wind gusts—to the test. 

This small-scale, remote-controlled aircraft demonstrator, which features “semi-aeroelastic” hinged wing-tips, recently completed a successful second flight test campaign. Airbus Semi-Aeroelastic Hinge Project Leader Tom Wilson and AlbatrossONE Chief Engineer James Kirk discuss the potential of this innovative technology for future aircraft.