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Proceedings Paper

Adaptive aerostructures: the first decade of flight on uninhabited aerial vehicles
Author(s): Ronald M. Barrett
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Paper Abstract

Although many subscale aircraft regularly fly with adaptive materials in sensors and small components in secondary subsystems, only a handful have flown with adaptive aerostructures as flight critical, enabling components. This paper reviews several families of adaptive aerostructures which have enabled or significantly enhanced flightworthy uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs), including rotary and fixed wing aircraft, missiles and munitions. More than 40 adaptive aerostructures programs which have had a direct connection to flight test and/or production UAVs, ranging from hover through hypersonic, sea-level to exo-stratospheric are examined. Adaptive material type, design Mach range, test methods, aircraft configuration and performance of each of the designs are presented. An historical analysis shows the evolution of flightworthy adaptive aerostructures from the earliest staggering flights in 1994 to modern adaptive UAVs supporting live-fire exercises in harsh military environments. Because there are profound differences between bench test, wind tunnel test, flight test and military grade flightworthy adaptive aerostructures, some of the most mature industrial design and fabrication techniques in use today will be outlined. The paper concludes with an example of the useful load and performance expansions which are seen on an industrial, military-grade UAV through the use of properly designed, flight-hardened adaptive aerostructures.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 July 2004
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 5388, Smart Structures and Materials 2004: Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies, (29 July 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.536681
Show Author Affiliations
Ronald M. Barrett, Technische Univ. Delft (Netherlands)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5388:
Smart Structures and Materials 2004: Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies
Eric H. Anderson, Editor(s)

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