Airbus could introduce folding wingtips on its future planes

The company has opened a new wing research center in the United Kingdom, which intends to study more efficient solutions for its new aircraft

Airbus is expected to “copy” a solution used by Boeing on the 777X in its future aircraft, the folding wingtips.

The European aircraft manufacturer cited the mechanism in a statement regarding the opening of the Wing Technology Development Center (WTDC) in Filton, UK, on July 4.

The new research center will be responsible for continuing the Wings of Tomorrow program, in which Airbus evaluates technologies to make wings longer, slimmer and lighter, in the search for greater fuel efficiency and reduced pollutant emissions.

For a few years now, Airbus has been evaluating configurations that include laminar profiles, extended wings and the AlbatrossOne demonstrator, which has tested semi-aeroelastic wingtips that can be bent.

The Wing Technology Development Centre (Airbus)

If at Boeing, the solution found was to fold the wingtips upwards, as in military aircraft that operate on aircraft carriers, Airbus is evaluating a mechanism that lowers the wingtips.

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In common, folding wing tips allow aircraft with large wingspans to fly in current airports, without the need for adaptations.

777-9 folding wingtip

“The new Wing Technology Development Center will help us to ground our research in practicality. A key element of how we deliver technology for next generation aircraft wings is through Wing of Tomorrow (WoT), our largest research and technology program led by the team in the UK”, said Sue Partridge, Head of the Wing of Tomorrow Programme.

Airbus has invested in technologies for aircraft powered by hydrogen, which, among several features, must have wings of great wingspan and a very slender profile, since the fuel will have to be transported inside the fuselage.


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