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DEMON UAV Has No Moving Flaps

The DEMON UAV has successfully demonstrated flapless flight, meaning that it can maneuver without using conventional mechanical elevators and ailerons. The UAV uses blown jets of air instead.


(Showcase UAV's flapless flight)

Such an approach offers several advantages over ‘moving flap’ technology which has been used since the early days of aviation, in that it means fewer moving parts, less maintenance, and a more stealthy profile for the aircraft. DEMON’s trial flights were the first ‘flapless flights’ ever to be authorised by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Professor John Fielding, chief engineer and lead for the DEMON demonstrator team from Cranfield University, said: “To make an aircraft fly and manoeuvre safely without the use of conventional control surfaces is an achievement in itself; to do that while at the same time bringing together new construction techniques and new control mechanisms could be said to be over-ambitious - but we have done it. The DEMON UAV has been developed within a research programme but it is a representative, complex, high technology aircraft. Gaining approval from the CAA and flying it successfully has required great skill, dedication and patience by the team and they should be very proud of their achievement.”

You can read more details about this technology in my earlier article FLAVIIR Flapless Unmanned Aerial Vehicles .

Arthur C. Clarke gave us a vision of these possibilities in his breathtaking 1953 novel Childhood's End:

The ordinary private flyer or aircar had no wings at all, or indeed any visible control surfaces. Even the clumsy rotor blades of the old helicopters had been banished. Yet man had not discovered anti-gravity; only the Overlords possessed that ultimate secret. His aircars were propelled by forces which the Wright brothers would have understood. Jet reaction, used both directly and in the more subtle form of boundary layer control, drove his flyers forward and held them in the air.

Via Physorg; thanks again to Winchell Chung for the tip and the reference on this story (you can also follow him @Nyrath).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/30/2010)

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