Innovative wing structure delivered for BLADE project


GKN Aerospace has delivered innovative wing components to test and measure the benefits of ‘natural laminar flow’ (NLF) designs for trials on the wing of a flight test aircraft.

The Breakthrough Laminar Aircraft Demonstrator in Europe (BLADE) project is part of the Clean Sky Smart Fixed Wing Aircraft (SWFA) program, an extensive, 50% European Union-funded, multi-partner activity aimed at lowering fuel consumption and emissions by reducing aircraft drag.

The components delivered are the critical leading edge assemblies and upper covers that form part of the NLF wing section on the starboard wing of the Airbus A340 flight test aircraft. These innovative structures offer NLF levels of performance through the adoption of a totally new design approach and the application of novel manufacturing technologies that deliver the ultra-high tolerances and surface finish required.

The flight tests, scheduled for 2017, will examine the wing section during tests of the performance characteristics of NLF wing architecture, helping prove predicted economic and environmental benefits. An NLF wing is expected to reduce wing drag by 8% and improve fuel consumption by approximately 5%.

January 14, 2016

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