British defence and aerospace company BAE Systems has formed an alliance with a UK-based university with the intention of changing the future of aircraft design with newly designed controlled flight technology.
BAE Systems and The University of Manchester have successfully completed the first phase of flight trials with their unmanned system, MAGMA.
MAGMA, a small scale unmanned aerial vehicle, which will use a unique blown-air system to manoeuvre the aircraft, removes the conventional need for mechanical moving parts used to move flaps to control the aircraft during flight.
The flight trials are part of an ongoing project between the two organisations and a wider long-term collaboration between industry, academia and government to explore and develop innovative flight control technology.
Further flight trials are planned for the coming months to demonstrate the novel flight control technologies with the ultimate aim of flying the aircraft without any moving control surfaces or fins.
If successful, the tests will demonstrate the first ever use of such circulation control in flight on a gas turbine aircraft and from a single engine.
Clyde Warsop, engineering fellow at BAE Systems, said: “The technologies we are developing with The University of Manchester will make it possible to design cheaper, higher performance, next generation aircraft. Our investment in research and development drives continued technological improvements in our advanced military aircraft, helping to ensure UK aerospace remains at the forefront of the industry and that we retain the right skills to design and build the aircraft of the future.”
Bill Crowther, a senior academic and leader of the MAGMA project at The University of Manchester, added: “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.”