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Flapless first takes flight in the skies over Walney

Source: NW Evening Mail, 29 September 2010

An unmanned air vehicle called Demon took to the skies over Walney Island to showcase new technology developed by BAE aeronautical engineers and university students. The revolutionary aircraft has the ability to fly without the use of flaps, by using jets of air to control its direction.

The technology offers several advantages over moving-flap technology, which has been used since the early days of aviation. Flapless flight means fewer moving parts, less maintenance and a more stealthy profile for the aircraft.

Demon’s trial flights on September 17 were the first flapless flights ever to be authorised by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Richard Williams, BAE Systems programme director for future capability, based at Warton in Lancashire, said: “What the team have achieved in such a short time is nothing short of remarkable. I was in Cumbria to watch Demon fly and I feel sure I have witnessed a significant moment in aviation history.

“What makes it even more poignant is that this is the result of British brains collaborating to produce world-leading technology. It, and other initiatives like it, will help ensure we maintain both a level of sovereign capability and a competitive edge.”

The flapless system, developed around a concept called fluidic flight control, was the result of collaborative work between Manchester and Cranfield universities, together with BAE Systems’ Advanced Technology Centre. It was tested in wind tunnels and on models before the full-scale trials took place at Walney.

While Demon itself is not expected to become a production aircraft, a number of the technologies it contains have and will continue to filter through to a range of other aviation platforms.

First published at 13:05, Wednesday, 29 September 2010
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