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Wings On Aircraft Landing Gear Make Aerodynamic Sense In Our Pre-Morphable Wing Age

Wings On Aircraft Landing Gear Make Aerodynamic Sense In Our Pre-Morphable Wing Age

The new business jet by Bombardier, the Legacy 500, has a small airfoil on the front landing gear. When I first saw this, I was intrigued because it is a concept I’ve always considered worthy. Specifically an airfoil on the landing gear is a perfect concept because the landing gear is attached to the aircraft’s frame. Therefore you could push up on the landing gear with an incredible amount of force without hurting the airplane. It is the absolute perfect place and structure for and airfoil.

The only problem is that when you get into higher performance airplanes the landing gear retracts, and therefore the airfoil must do the same. Still, consider if you will that when an aircraft is taking off it needs more lift, therefore it needs a greater camber on the leading-edge of the wing or more airfoil surface to lift that weight off the ground. Once airborne and moving at higher rates of speed it needs less wing, a lower aspect ratio to the leading-edge, and a more streamlined and aerodynamic shape.

In the future all this will be solved by morphable wings, but we don’t have those materials designed yet allowing a wing to change shape significantly for high weight takeoffs, and then later high-speed cruise (supersonic for instance). Until we get there, an extra airfoil on the landing gear does make a lot of sense. Further, it could also turn vertical and used as a speed brake once the aircraft has landed. Or it might be used for deflecting the airflow pushing the aircraft’s nose into the air during take-off. Using simulation software we could figure out exactly the shape and size that such an airfoil might need to be to serve those functions, and what settings it would take during the take-off and landing phases of the flight. Then engineer it so it could retract with the landing gear into the landing gear bay.

There are many safety features that come with this such as lower landing speeds, more stability at lower speeds, more efficiency and low fuel use, and greater takeoff weight. These are all important things for aircraft, and it also saves wear and tear on the tires, and allows a safe margin for error on shorter runways. Why shouldn’t all high-performance aircraft have this? And, why wouldn’t it be possible for some of the landing gear doors to also serve as a dual purpose and shaped like airfoils, or vertical fins?

Why wouldn’t we use those components sticking out into the slipstream to our benefits, rather than our detriment? Remember, when we are talking about aircraft everything is a compromise, and we want the most efficient design possible for all the characteristics we need within the envelope of flight which serve that aircraft’s primary functions. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this, and accept my challenge to design such new technologically advanced aerospace and aerodynamics strategies.

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