X-56A Multi-Utility Technology Testbed (MUTT)
Longer and more flexible wings are considered crucial to the design of future long-range, fuel-efficient aircraft. Because these wings are more susceptible to flutter and the stress of atmospheric turbulence,
NASA is investigating key technologies for active flutter suppression and gust-load alleviation. The goal of the X-56A MUTT project is to advance aeroservoelastic technology through flight research using a low-cost, modular remotely piloted experimental aircraft. The aircraft is being tested using flight profiles where flutter occurs in order to demonstrate that onboard instrumentation not only can accurately predict and sense the onset of wing flutter but also can be used by the control system to actively suppress aeroelastic instabilities.
Work to date: Flight tests in 2013 provided validation of the flight vehicle systems and paved the way for flights in 2014 to validate flutter-suppression techniques on highly flexible structures. The Armstrong team has provided oversight regarding airworthiness and flight safety as well as operations and range support.
Looking ahead: Goals include: (1) maturing flutter-suppression technologies, (2) reducing structural weight to improve fuel efficiency, and (3) increasing aspect ratio by 30 to 40 percent to reduce aerodynamic drag.
Partner: Air Force Flight Research Laboratory
Advanced: Enables construction of longer, lighter, more flexible wings for a variety of crewed and remotely piloted aircraft
Configurable: Enables a vast array of future research activities for wing sets, tail sections, sensors, and control surfaces
Lightweight commercial aircraft
High-altitude surveillance platforms
Hyperelastic Research/Lightweight Flexible Aircraft
Armstrong engineers are pioneering new research in aircraft design and modeling. Researchers are experimenting with revolutionary hyperelastic wing control technologies that can reduce weight, improve aircraft aerodynamic efficiency, and suppress flutter. Other cutting-edge research involves techniques, models, and analysis tools for flutter suppression and gust-load allevia-tion.Flight projects at Armstrong rely on high-performance aircraft that can support research on lightweight structures and advance control technologies for future efficient, environmentally friendly transport aircraft. This work has applicability beyond flight safety and design optimization.Armstrong's R&D capabilities in this area also can be applied to other vehicles, such as supersonic transports, large space structures, and hypersonic vehicles.