The Spanwise Adaptive Wing concept seeks to enhance aircraft performance by allowing the outboard portions of wings to adapt, or fold, according to different flight condition demands. (NASA)

NASA’s Spanwise Adaptive Wing (SAW) concept permits the outboard portions of the wings to move to the optimal position during operation. This could increase efficiency by reducing drag, and increasing lift and performance. The ability to achieve an optimal wing position for different aspects of flight may also produce enough yaw control to allow for rudder reduction on subsonic and supersonic aircraft.

Wing-folding articulation, or shaping, has generally been used to conserve deck space on aircraft carriers and aircraft storage areas. NASA is looking at ways to apply these methods to aircraft in flight. Advanced actuation makes possible a design that is both compact and lightweight, minimizing stress on the wing and allowing for more compact packaging. These solid-state actuators can be driven by an all-electric mechanism.