NASA: innovation in vortex generators for sustainable aviation

NASA believes that an airplane’s vortex generators (VG), flat pieces of metal most often seen protruding like fins from the surface of an airplane’s wing, can be powerful tools to make aviation more sustainable.

By Boeing

Engineers from NASA and Boeing are cooperating to find out how SMART vortex generators (VGs) can decrease drag in flight that could reduce aviation’s environmental impact and save airlines money. VGs disturb the flow of air streaming over the aircraft. This turbulence mixes the layers of air immediately at and above the surface, causing more airflow to ‘stick’ to the wing.

The plan is to test the new shapes and materials of vortex generators on the 2022 Boeing ecoDemonstrator aircraft – a 777-200ER. The tests are part of the Boeing ecoDemonstrator program, which takes promising technologies out of laboratories and puts them through rigorous testing in a real operational environment.