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Successful first flight trial completion of jet-powered UAV

13 December 2017

BAE Systems and Manchester University’s MAGMA aircraft uses a unique blown-air system to manoeuvre the aircraft, paving the way for stealthier designs.

BAE Systems and Manchester University’s MAGMA aircraft (Credit: BAE Systems)

This new design removes the need for complex, mechanical moving parts used to move flaps that control the aircraft during flight. This not only gives greater control but reduces weight and maintenance costs, allowing for lighter, stealthier, faster and more efficient aircrafts of the future. 

The two technologies to be trialled first using the jet-powered MAGMA, are:

• Wing Circulation Control, which takes air from the aircraft engine and blows it supersonically through the trailing edge of the wing to provide control for the aircraft
• Fluidic Thrust Vectoring, which uses blown air to deflect the exhaust, allowing for the direction of the aircraft to be changed.

Clyde Warsop, Engineering Fellow here at BAE Systems, said: “The technologies we are developing with The University of Manchester will make it possible to design cheaper, higher performance, next generation aircraft. Our investment in research and development drives continued technological improvements in our advanced military aircraft, helping to ensure UK aerospace remains at the forefront of the industry and that we retain the right skills to design and build the aircraft of the future.”

Bill Crowther, a senior academic and leader of the MAGMA project at The University of Manchester, adds: “These trials are an important step forward in our efforts to explore adaptable airframes. What we are seeking to do through this programme is truly ground-breaking.”

Further flight trials are planned for the next few months, with the aim of flying the aircraft without any moving control surfaces or fins. If successful, the tests will demonstrate the first ever use of such circulation control in flight on a gas turbine aircraft from a single engine. 
Additional technologies to improve the performance of the UAV are being explored in collaboration with the University of Arizona and NATO Science and Technology Organisation. 

Source: BAE Systems

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