Andrew Doyle/LONDON

DOWTY AEROSPACE is leading a 30-month research programme aimed at developing advanced wing technologies for possible incorporation in Airbus aircraft.

The £1.5 million ($2.3 million) "advanced high-lift programme" consists of 16 separate projects and is being partially funded by the UK Department of Trade and Industry.

Dowty says that the work involves "... research into improving high-lift systems by exploring better integration of systems within aircraft, advanced concepts and control techniques, high-technology components and advanced materials and [manufacturing] processes".

For example, one project is to examine the use of so-called "variable-torque limiters" to reduce the maximum stresses experienced by individual drive mechanisms when the wing-flaps are extended.

According to Brian Farley, director of actuation systems at Dowty Aerospace, the "maximum-stress case" would occur when a flap-extension mechanism became jammed, leading to mechanical torque levels normally required to drive the entire flap system being applied to a single actuator. The variable-torque limiter would be sensitive to the geometrical position of the flap linkages, and use load-monitoring devices to prevent any individual mechanism from being over-stressed.

The wing could be made lighter, as the maximum design loads for these components, is reduced.

Another project involves the study of "more-electric" concepts, which could lead to the elimination of some mechanical drive systems and moving parts in an aircraft wing. Electric motors would be used to drive mechanical systems instead of hydraulics, and a "switched-reluctance-motor" located on the shaft of the engine could replace external generators and eliminate the need for engine-driven gearboxes (Flight International, 27 September-3 October, P8).

Dowty supplies flying controls for the A330/340 wide body family, including flap actuation and transmission systems, to British Aerospace Airbus, which builds the wings for all Airbuses. The advanced high-lift programme is due to be completed in mid-1997.

Source: Flight International