By Chambers J.R.
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Additional resources for Concept to Reality: Contributions of the NASA Langley Research Centerto U.S. Civil Aircraft of the 1990s
Following the early development of the area rule, Whitcomb continued his remarkably intuitive approach to transonic aerodynamics in efforts that 48 Concept to Reality AREA RULE Applications to Civil Aircraft showed how the principles involved in the area rule could be used to enhance the overall performance of transport aircraft, without the radical reshaping of the entire aircraft required for the near-sonic transport configurations. For example, in 1958 he developed a special fuselage addition on the forward part of the upper fuselage that significantly reduced the shock-induced separation noted on the inboard upper-wing surface for representative transport configurations.
The Langley NLF research produced a clearer understanding of these limitations. Large nose-down pitching moments and the associated high-magnitude control-surface hinge moments, in addition to trim drag, are another concern for NLF-type airfoils. Similar to supercritical airfoils, as previously mentioned, a large amount of aft camber is required to achieve high maximum lift on airfoils with extensive laminar flow. Some industry teams believe that new NLF airfoils should have little or no trailing-edge reflex.
Despite this early negative assessment, Boeing later adapted winglets to the 747-400, as is discussed in a subsequent section. Lockheed’s studies indicated that extending the wingtips of the L-1011, together with the use of active controls to relieve loads, was a more favorable approach than the use of winglets. Douglas, however, was impressed with the potential benefits of winglets to structurally or span-constrained configurations, and the company proceeded to modify a DC-10 for flight tests.