The flight demonstrations as part of the AWIATOR (Aircraft Wing with Advanced Technology Operation) technology programme have begun, using an Airbus A340-300 as the test bed aircraft.

The 80 million Euro programme, which is investigating future wing technologies, includes many other partners, such as Alenia, CERFACS, CNRS, DLR, EADS Research Centre, EADS Military Aircraft, GKN, IAI, INASCO, IST, NLR, NTUA, ONERA, the European Union, Sener, Sonaca, Spasa, TU Munich, TU Berlin and UCL, and is being coordinated by Airbus.

The technologies for the AWIATOR programme, which began in July 2002, have been developed in other national or European initiatives. These technologies include new ways of measuring and influencing the vortex wake, new ways of influencing noise, integration of very large wing tip devices (winglets), new wing deformation measurements and new flight control laws using existing and new control surfaces. In addition, a new sensor to measure turbulence ahead of the aircraft, adaptive and new elements to increase high lift efficiency will also be tested. The response of the wing in flight will be measured in detail by standard and advanced measurement methods, such as inclinometers, Bragg sensors, pressure belts and photogrammetry. Noise and vortices in the far field will be measured by microphone arrays and Lidar systems.

In addition to the flight tests and supporting theoretical work currently being undertaken, there will also be other tests performed throughout Europe, including simulator tests, tests on various system and structure test rigs, and, of course, a variety of tests in large European wind tunnels.

During the first stage of the programme, which runs to December 2003, the new technologies will be investigated separately. The single technological elements will be installed, flight tested and dismounted again afterwards during six separate flight test campaigns. Following an intensive analysis of the flight test results, the most promising technologies - along with the best component optimisation - will be integrated for the final 'AWIATOR integration flight test.' It is anticipated that this will take place in mid 2005.

These ambitious flight test programmes will enable full scale validation and integration of the technologies in preparation for application on future aircraft products.

Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE SYSTEMS.