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NASA Tests its Anti-bug Coating on Boeing Ecodemonstrator Flight

Published on 2015-04-29. Author :

NASA will test non-stick wing coatings designed to minimize insect residue and help reduce aircraft fuel consumption during flights in Shreveport, Louisiana.

The Boeing ecoDemonstrator 757 flight test jet is scheduled to arrive at the Shreveport Regional Airport after flying from Seattle Monday afternoon.

Media will gather at the TacAir Facility located at 6209 Interstate Drive, Shreveport, Louisiana, and be escorted to the plane.

During 15 planned ecoDemonstrator flights through May 15, NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation Project will assess how well five different coatings prevent insect remains from sticking to the leading edge of the 757's right wing. Bug residue is a nuisance on cars, but on some aircraft designs it is also a drag, literally. Studies have shown that keeping the flow smooth, or laminar, over a wing can reduce fuel consumption as much as six percent. Even something as small as a bug on a leading edge can cause turbulent wedges that interrupt laminar flow, resulting in an increase in drag and fuel use.

Engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, developed and tested several non-stick coatings in a small wind tunnel and on the wing of a Langley jet. They selected the best candidates to test on the ecoDemonstrator 757, while a NASA, Boeing, U.S. Department of Transportation (Volpe), and University of California-Davis team looked for an area with a large bug population to flight test the surfaces. After narrowing the list of 90 airports to six, Shreveport was chosen based on runway length, temperature, humidity, weather, the ability to handle a 757 aircraft and thunderstorm frequency.

The Langley researchers will work with Boeing pilots and engineers to test the coatings on two of the leading edge slats on the jet’s right wing during the Louisiana flights. The team will establish a bug baseline by using uncoated surfaces to capture insect accumulation rates. Then they will fly untreated control surfaces along with engineered surface samples of the five coatings being tested.

NASA's goals are not only to determine which coating is most effective in decreasing the amount of bug residue, but also to provide data that will allow engineers to measure how reducing the size and specific locations of bug strikes affect laminar flow and help improve fuel efficiency.

According to Boeing, the ecoDemonstrator Program plays a key role in the company’s environmental strategy by testing and accelerating new technologies that can reduce fuel use, carbon emissions and noise. In collaboration with NASA and TUI Group, Europe’s leading travel group, the ecoDemonstrator 757 began flight tests in March with a focus on improving aerodynamic efficiency. In 2014, the company tested more than 25 technologies on the ecoDemonstrator 787. In 2012, Boeing tested 15 ecoDemonstrator technologies on an American Airlines 737-800.

With the exception of Boeing proprietary technology, NASA knowledge gained through the ecoDemonstrator research will be publicly available to benefit industry.

About NASA

Established in 1958, NASA has accomplished many great scientific and technological feats in air and space. NASA technology also has been adapted for many nonaerospace uses by the private sector. NASA is one of the leading forces in scientific research and in stimulating public interest in aerospace exploration, as well as science and technology in general.

Source: NASA

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