DEMON UAV Demonstrates Flapless Flight

Nancy Anderson
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Last month in Cumbria, England, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) named 'Demon' demonstrated the ability to maneuver without moving physical control surfaces. This is a first for a fixed-wing aircraft, and could pave the way for future developments of flapless aircraft with higher efficiency, and lower acoustic signatures.

Demon is maneuvered using 'virtual' flaps and elevators, if you will: Air is forced out of nozzles on the trailing edges of the wings, changing the airflow over the wing (and therefore the lift it generates) due to the Coanda effect. This type of fluidic control surface has been used commercially before -- the NOTAR tail-rotor replacement system is used by McDonnell Douglas on a few of their current helicopter lines.

Demon was developed as part of a joint program between ten universities in the UK and BAE Systems. It was completed in five years, as part of its Flapless Air Vehicle Integrated Industrial Research program at a cost of USD$10 million.

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Mike Wrightly is mostly diesel fumes and duct tape; he grew up around heavy equipment, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering.

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