GKN Aerospace is now taking NLF wing design and evaluation work, completed in phase one of Clean Sky, into the ‘phase two’ development of a ground-based structural systems demonstrator. The company is also set to design and manufacture major components of the NLF wing flight demonstrator, providing the metallic leading edge and composite upper cover for the structure.

The flight demonstrator platform will be an A340 with the outer third of the wing replaced with the NLF wing development sections. Flight tests are scheduled for 2014-2015.

Natural Laminar Flow wing

A fully NLF wing is considered to be one of the key developments to reduce drag in the next generation of aircraft and has the potential to provide 3-4% fuel savings.

An NLF wing is very different from a conventional wing and requires changes to wing architecture, aerofoil definition and detailed design and manufacturing concepts. The more slender sections and very high tolerance surface finishes and joints also present new challenges.

Clean Sky

The €1.6 billion Clean Sky initiative is one of the largest European Union/industry research programmes ever undertaken. It focuses on developing breakthrough technologies that will significantly reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.