Active flow control can have a wide range of applications for modifying and improving aerodynamic properties on fixed and rotary wing flight platforms. Successful implementations can yield reductions in the size of physical control surfaces on fixed wing aircraft with resultant improvements in weight and drag, and subsequently reduced fuel consumption. Similar improvements in fuel economy may also be envisioned with separation control and drag reduction applied to the fuselage or external stores of rotorcraft. Active flow control can also enable improved performance at off-design conditions with subsequent extensions of the flight envelope (e.g., short takeoff and landing for fixed wing aircraft and suppression of retreating blade stall for rotorcraft). Actuators with high control authority and minimized infrastructure and energy requirements will be vital to practical implementation of all of these applications and may enable shock manipulation control strategies at even higher flight speeds.
The benefits of aerodynamic flow control as described above for NASA applications will extend broadly to the commercial and military aerospace industry. In addition to external flow control applications for increased lift and reduced drag (with subsequently improved fuel economy and potential extensions of the flight envelope), active control of separation for internal flows is also of interest, including at serpentine engine inlets and even within gas turbines.