Morphing Wings Make Jets More Efficient

University of Michigan engineers have developed improved wing designs capable of burning less fuel, as well as tools that help the aerospace industry build more efficient aircraft. In areas where new technologies are being applied – such as for wings made of composite materials or wings that morph during flight – improved design tools can provide insights when intuitive understanding is lacking.

New, high-aspect-ratio wings have a much larger span than those in use today. Boeing has adapted that model, and will build a prototype to test at NASA's Transonic Dynamics Tunnel.

Tow-steered composites can reduce the structural weight of an aircraft by 10 percent when compared to conventional composite designs, while reducing the fuel burn by 0.4 percent. Morphing wings that change shape can maintain maximum performance regardless of flight speed, altitude, and aircraft weight.