Aurora Flight Sciences and Lockheed Martin are set to enter Phase I of the Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) programme.

Through the programme, US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) seeks to develop an experimental aircraft (X-plane) based on active flow control (AFC).

Phase I includes the development of system requirements and software, early design work, and initial airworthiness activities. This will result in a preliminary design review.

DARPA Tactical Technology Office CRANE programme manager Alexander Walan said: “The Phase I researchers have completed conceptual designs of novel flight demonstration configurations with quantifiable performance benefits enabled by active flow control (AFC).

“Multiple AFC technologies will continue to be matured through advanced analytical and testing activities for incorporation in relevant demonstrator designs.”

Meanwhile, Phase 0’s primary objectives are focused on the development and maturation of AFC design software and databases.

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DARPA noted that Georgia Tech Research’s Phase 0 effort has been extended to enable further refinement of these tools to transfer them to respective military and government partners.

Walan added: “In addition to its role in upcoming flight test activities, AFC design software is a critical piece for the inclusion of AFC technologies in future defence and commercial aircraft designs.

“The CRANE programme is in a unique position to provide a comprehensive AFC database and the associated tools to future aircraft designers.

“The continuation of Georgia Tech Research Corporation’s work in this area will ensure this valuable capability is successfully transitioned to the aircraft design community.”

Furthermore, DARPA has selected a BAE Systems team to start a Phase 0 conceptual design activity.

Under the recent Phase 0 award, which is focused on exploring AFC trade space and risk reduction activities, BAE Systems will evaluate the benefits of using AFC integrated into different air vehicle concepts.

This work by BAE will give a lead to a conceptual design review.