A picture released by a Russian aeronautical research centre shows that Embraer has completed testing of a high-aspect ratio wing for a yet-undisclosed, turbofan-powered aircraft project.
The TSaGI Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute says that data from windtunnel tests on the new wing in December and January is now being analysed by a joint team of Russian and Embraer engineers.
The announcement offers new insight into the status of Embraer's long-term product development strategy. In a public presentation last August, an Embraer official listed a high-aspect ratio as among the technologies being considered for a next-generation airliner to emerge after 2025 to succeed the re-winged E-Jet scheduled for 2018.
According to TSaGI, the high-aspect ratio wing entered testing in Russia early in the fourth quarter and concluded in January, with a special focus on analysing the wing's stiffness and flutter characteristics.
The wingtips were not visible in the TSaGI picture, but the windtunnel model used was designed to allow Embraer technicians to study several different wingtip designs, the Russian agency says.
High-aspect ratios, once associated exclusively with high-altitude surveillance aircraft, are now being widely pursued as a future air transport technology.
A aspect ratio of the wing is the product of dividing the square of its span, or length, by its area. Thus, as the ratio increases, the wing becomes thinner and more efficient at generating lift.
Unlike a small, lightweight spy aircraft, such as the Lockheed U-2, high-aspect ratio wings have not been considered practical for heavy, passenger-carrying aircraft.
But advances in lightweight and stronger materials are allowing aircraft designers around the world to consider high-aspect ratio wings for the airliners that will appear after 2025.
In 2011, Embraer set aside plans to develop a small narrowbody to challenge the Bombardier CSeries in favour of re-winging and re-engining the E-Jet family. But company officials have continued to explore long-term options for a larger commercial aircraft.