BAE Systems has just made history of aviation, with the first ever flight of an aircraft not fitted with flaps on its wings. In fact, this unmanned aircraft, or UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), called DEMON, instead of flaps and ailerons, resorts to the use of controlled air jets to move upward or downward while in the air.
Normally, the wings of a conventional aircraft are equipped with moving parts (the flaps) in the back, which are opened and extended backwards and downwards during takeoff and landing. This changes the shape of the wing, and air must follow a different path to travel around the wing itself, creating a lift.
The Demon UAV, instead, achieves the same result via controlled air jets, which alter the course of the air near the wings, instead of modifying the shape of the wing itself. Sensors mounted on the tips are used to continuously monitor the air flow and to change the direction of the air jets.
According to experts, this could make flying much easier, due to lack of moving parts that could potentially get stuck. In addition, a plane with a profile like that leaves a smaller radar footprint, with easily imaginable advantages for stealth-mode flights, which makes these UAVs particularly suitable for use in reconnaissance missions behind enemy lines.
Demon is in its experimental stage and is still not entirely autonomous, but once then tests are successfully completed, it will operate independently from any human control from the ground, except for setting up the mission coordinates and mounting the necessary equipment to carry it out.
Although this is a prototype, its features have sparked a great interest in aviation, because in a not too distant future, the solutions used for this UAV could also become commonplace in commercial aviation.