NASA Flight Tests Explore Supersonic Laminar Flow


A small test airfoil representative of an aircraft wing section has been undergoing flight tests on NASA’s F-15B aeronautics research testbed to determine its ability to create smooth or laminar airflow at supersonic speeds. The second phase of the Supersonic Boundary Layer Transition Project at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center is investigating the transition from laminar to turbulent airflow in a real-world flight environment. The less turbulence, the less aerodynamic drag. The flight tests are being conducted in partnership with the Aerion Corporation and could lead to refined airfoil designs that incorporate natural laminer flow at supersonic cruise conditions. [On condition] That would increase aerodynamic efficiency and result in reduced fuel consumption of future supersonic aircraft.

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