Aerospace giant Airbus is testing a large scale model of an A321 with wingtips that flap, kind of. The model makes use of what Airbus is calling an “aeroelastic hinge” that flaps in response to gusts and turbulence. Named after a bird, the albatross, which is known to be a great long-distance flyer, the AlbatrosOne can make use of longer, lighter wings that don’t get banged around it the rough stuff as hard as conventional rigid designs.
While it’s arguably a form of flapping, the concept seems to us to be more of a stress relief device than a flapper. Birds flap in order to gain altitude, something this Airbus model isn’t even attempting. Not that we don’t think it’s a cool idea, and one that could translate into savings and maybe even migrate down the food chain to small planes, but “flapping” it is not.
Airbus has not announced any plans to implement the feature on its passenger planes, but like other conceptual models, AlbatrosOne might someday lead to improved front line airliners.
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