Reduced Drag Aircrafts : crane program

DARPA’s CRANE program, which stands for Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors program, aims to eliminate the need for traditional mobile flight controls outside the wings and tail. The company recently awarded Aurora Flight Sciences a Phase 2 contract for this program. This program reduces the weight and mechanical complexity of traditional control surfaces, improves overall performance and allows for greater angles of attack.

The aircraft flies using Active Flow Control (AFC). It uses a series of nozzle arrays along the wings connected to a pressurized air system. These nozzle arrays can blow controlled bursts of air to directly alter the air pressure and flow around the aircraft, effectively creating a virtual control surface from compressed air. Aurora Flight Sciences is currently building a full-scale unmanned AFC test vehicle with a wingspan of 30 feet and capable of flying at speeds up to Mach 0.7. As the program progresses to Phase 3, the aircraft will be completed and in-flight tested by 2025. This new technology has the potential to change the way future aircraft are designed and manufactured.

Image Credit: Aurora Flight Sciences

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