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Design, build and test of a fanwing demonstrator
Group Members
Umar Ali, Henry Hancock, Martine Marchesi, Patrik Toobe, Christian Yarwood
Dr David Toal
3DXR, Northrup Grumman / Boeing Mouser
This project designed, built and tested a FanWing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that utilizes a fan across the trailing edge of the wing to improve the aerodynamic performance and generate thrust. Unlike other FanWing aircraft, this design uses a thin aerofoil with directional thrust from the fan which helps control the pitching moment. The FanWing has a modular structure which makes it capable of substituting the portion of the wing encasing the fan with a standard aerofoil profile. Testing both configurations will help compare the viability of the FanWing with a traditional UAV.

Implementing a cross-flow fan along the span of a wing has been studied for many years but up until now, not many flying examples of this innovative design exist. Acting as a source of both high lift and thrust, a cross-flow fan utilises boundary-layer suction to provide excellent stall characteristics and exceptional lift. We tested multiple configurations of fan position, fan size, rotation speed and wing profile with both computational fluid dynamics simulations and wind tunnel tests to develop our chosen design. The trade-offs between thin and thicker aerofoils were studied and resulted in a thin aerofoil profile based on its lower drag/higher thrust characteristics, better performance under fan-failure and ease of integration with a traditional fixed wing UAV, despite not being as efficient in lift production.
Render of the FRED aircraft.
Graph showing drag coefficients from two fanwing sections from wind tunnel experiments.
Graph showing drag coefficients from two fanwing sections from wind tunnel experiments.
Aircraft schematic.