NASA used a remote-controlled flight testbed to test the shape memory alloy. (NASA/Ken Ulbrich)

NASA has successfully applied a new technology in flight that allows aircraft to fold their wings to different angles while in the air. Part of the Spanwise Adaptive Wing (SAW) project, the technology could produce multiple in-flight benefits to aircraft in the future, both subsonic and supersonic.

The SAW project intends to obtain a wide spectrum of aerodynamic benefits in flight by folding wings through the use of an innovative, lightweight material called shape memory alloy. The material can fold the wings between 0 and 70 degrees up and down in flight.

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