December 14, 2017: In a bid to paving the way for future stealthier aircraft designs, the first phase of flight trials with jet-powered MAGMA was recently conducted by BAE Systems along in conjunction with the University of Manchester.
MAGMA is a small scale unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which is fitted with a unique blown-air system to manoeuvre the aircraft.
According to reports, the new concept for aircraft control removes the conventional need for complex and mechanical moving parts used to move flaps to control the aircraft during flight.
It’s expected to offer greater control, reduce weight and maintenance costs, allowing lighter, stealthier, faster, and efficient military and civil aircraft in the future.
The two technologies which will undergo a trial run before using the jet-powered UAV—MAGMA, include wing circulation control that takes air from the aircraft engine and blows it supersonically through the trailing edge of the wing to provide control for the aircraft.
Similarly, fluidic thrust vectoring test will also be conducted, which uses blown air to deflect the exhaust, allowing for the direction of the aircraft to be changed.
The flight trials are part of an ongoing project between two entities that will help widen a long-term collaboration between industry, academia and government to explore and develop innovative flight control technology.
Additional flight trials have been planned in next couple of to demonstrate the novel flight control technologies with the ultimate aim of flying the aircraft without any moving control surfaces or fins.
If it succeeds, tests will validate the first ever use of such circulation control in flight on a gas turbine aircraft with single engine.
Clyde Warsop, Engineering Fellow with BAE Systems said: “The technologies we are developing with the University of Manchester help in designing cheaper, higher performance, next generation aircraft. Our investment in research and development drives continued technological improvements in our advanced military aircraft, helping to ensure the UK aerospace remains at the forefront of the industry, as we retain the right skills to design and build the aircraft of the future.”
Bill Crowther, senior academic and leader of the MAGMA project at the University of Manchester said “These trials are an important step forward in our efforts to explore adaptable airframes. What we are seeking to do through this programme is truly ground-breaking.”
Meanwhile, additional technologies to improve the performance of the UAV are being explored in collaboration with the University of Arizona and NATO Science and Technology Organisation.