Curtiss-Wright Actuators Ready For Airbus eXtra Demonstrator

Airbus Upnext
Credit: Airbus UpNext

LE BOURGET—Curtiss-Wright is set to deliver a set of specially developed rotary actuators to Airbus UpNext, the aircraft-maker’s technology innovation arm, for the eXtra Performance Wing active control demonstrator program.

The actuators form a crucial element of the initiative under which Airbus will use a modified Cessna Citation VII business jet to validate inflight folding wingtips and other active control technologies to improve the aerodynamics of wings on future commercial aircraft.

The Citation will be converted to remote control and fitted with an increased-span semi-aeroelastic hinged wing, gust sensors, pop-up spoilers and multifunction trailing edges to enable active control of the wing. The all-new extended composite wing incorporates a 6.5-ft. moveable tip section which will be attached with the multi-role actuator.

One of three Curtiss-Wright actuators developed for the eXtra Performance Wing active control demonstrator program. Credit: Mark Wagner/Aviation Images

“The actuator is also the structural hinge,” says Oliver Green, business development director for Curtiss-Wright Actuation Division. Displaying one of the completed units at the Paris Air Show, Green says: “All the flight test hardware is built and will be delivered to Airbus shortly. All testing at our end is complete and functional tests will be done at Airbus prior to the wing being constructed."

Curtiss-Wright derived its design from electric actuator technology developed for a recent business jet program as well as heritage concepts reaching as far back as the hinged-wing North American XB-70 supersonic bomber project of the 1960s.

The device operates in two modes: one to position the wingtip in a fixed angle; and a second to enable the outer wing section to move freely under aerodynamic loads. The system incorporates a clutch device to switch between the two modes.

The test unit, which is around 2-ft. long, is a 30%-scale version of a full-size conceptual device which might be used on a future single-aisle design.

Guy Norris

Guy is a Senior Editor for Aviation Week, covering technology and propulsion. He is based in Colorado Springs.