As the Breakthrough Laminar Aircraft Demonstrator in Europe (BLADE) was rolled out of the hangar this month in preparation for its first flight, we take a look at the ground breaking project and Sitec's involvement in producing one of the most advanced and technically challenging demonstrator aircraft in the history of Airbus.
BLADE is an EC funded European Partnership with Airbus chosen to provide overall integration and technical leadership. Since the start of the project in 2008 the project has focused on research and development with the aim of exploring Natural Laminar Flow (NLF).
Natural Laminar Flow is the flow of air in parallel layers across the wing. This 'un-separated' flow of air is less turbulent than on a traditional aircraft wing and so reduces the amount of drag. This could provide a step change in fuel efficiency with the potential to save up to 5% fuel burn on a typical single aisle aircraft.
The technical aim of this project was to replace the outer wing of A340 MSN001 with a new design to achieve Laminar Flow. This, coupled with the addition of thousands of sensors, would prove to be the most advanced demonstrator aircraft ever built by airbus.
Sitec has been heavily involved in the project since 2011, initially defining the transition structure between the existing A340 wing and the new experimental wing section. This involvement grew to include the new trailing edge, ailerons and all systems design (fuel pneumatics, hydraulics and electrics). Along with this, the FTI for this outer wing was also under Sitec's responsibility including the development of new technology. At its peak, the BLADE project involved 55 Sitec engineers.
Read more about Sitec's involvement here:
More about BLADE from the web: