FLAVIIR Flapless Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

A revolutionary prototype airplane that uses no moving control flaps has been developed as a part of a program involving the University of Leicester, funded jointly by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and BAE Systems.


(FLAVIIR prototype aircraft model)

Flapless aircraft use fluidic thrust vectoring and circulation control, which controls pitch and roll by using a secondary air flow. Control is achieved by blowing air from the trailing edge of the wing which entrains the upper surface flow and so increases lift. Eliminating moving control surfaces can result in increased reliability in autonomous flying vehicles.


(Flapless control diagram and model)

Perfecting flapless aircraft control will bring many benefits to UAVs (Unmanned aerial vehicles) as well as conventional aircraft. The number of moving and electrical parts in both military and civil aircraft can be reduced with flapless control technology; this has clear implications for cost, reliability, weight, efficiency and maintenance. Military planes will have enhanced their stealth characteristics by a reducing the number of edges and gaps that can increase radar cross section.

Flapless aircraft technologies might affect the development of real-life UAVs like the Cloud Swift autonomous soaring project, making them more reliable in flight. Read more at the press release.

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