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Aviation Week Cover Story Features Misson Adaptive Digital Composite Aerostructure Technologies (MADCAT) Project
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Aviation Week Cover Story Features Misson Adaptive Digital Composite Aerostructure Technologies (MADCAT) Project

The March 18th, 2019, Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine cover story features the Mission Adaptive Digital Composite Aerostructure Technologies (MADCAT) project. The article is entitled, “Programmable Structures Could Unlock Potential of Morphing Wings”, and coincides with MADCAT’s technical publication, “Elastic Shape Morphing of Ultralight Structures by Programmable Assembly”, which will appear in the April 1st issue of the Smart Materials and Structures journal

BACKGROUND: The objective of MADCAT is to develop a novel aerostructure concept by taking advantage of emerging digital composite manufacturing and fabrication methods to build a high stiffness-to-density ratio, ultra-light structure that can provide mission-adaptive and aerodynamically efficient air vehicles. This discrete construction approach offers additional design degrees of freedom for aircraft designers to achieve new flight objectives that are otherwise unachievable. The MADCAT demonstrator utilizes a wing-twist actuation mechanism that generates a linear span-wise wing-morphing capability, thereby producing both lateral and longitudinal directional control authority. In addition, the aerodynamic lift/drag can be modulated by varying wing-tip twist oscillation frequency. During flight testing, MADCAT flew quite easily with sufficient control authority, and did not seem to fly any different from conventional aircraft with ailerons.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Funded previously by the Convergent Aeronautics Solutions (CAS) project, Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program (TACP), Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD).

TEAM: Kenneth Cheung, Nick Cramer, Olivia B. Formoso, Benjamin E. Jenett, Joseph H Kim (SGT), Martynas Lendraitis (I2 Program), Sean Shan-min Swei, Greenfield T. Trinh, Khanh V. Trinh, and many wonderful student interns in collaboration with NASA Langley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), UC Santa Cruz, and UC Berkeley; CODE RM (Applied Manufacturing Division): Daniel W. Cellucci and Christine E. Gregg.

POINT OF CONTACT: Kenneth Cheung,

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