Airbus’s A340 “flight lab” took to the air with the starboard laminar flow wing panel made by GKN Aerospace

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Airbus’s A340 laminar-flow test demonstrator, named “Flight Lab”  for the Clean Sky “Blade” project made its first flight on 26 September 2017. Blade stands for Breakthrough Laminar Aircraft Demonstrator in Europe”.

The project aims to achieve a 50 percent reduction in wing friction and up to 5 percent lower CO2 emission. The aircraft made a three-hour, 38-minute test flight in the South of France. It is the first test aircraft in the world to combine a transonic laminar wing profile with a true internal primary structure. GKN Aerospace has a prominent role in the BLADE project. GKN Aerospace designed and made the starboard transonic laminar outer wing. The portside outer wing is manufactured by SAAB. These panels represent about two-thirds of the wing size on a short- or medium-range airliner. The extensive modifications to the A340-300 including a highly complex flight-test-instrumentation (FTI) station in the cabin, took place with the support of many industrial partners across Europe. The project aims to collect 2,000 parameters during 150 flight test hours in the upcoming period.