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Boeing X-53 AAW (Active Aeroelastic Wing)


Experimental Aircraft


United States | 2006



"The NASA-Boeing X-53 AAW tech demonstrator was based in the FA-18A Hornet series fighter designed to prove the validity of a bending-twisting mainplane."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 11/05/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Boeing X-53 AAW served the Air Force Research Laboratory, Boeing Phantom Works, and NASA in the study of twisting wing mainplanes through an "Active Aeroelastic Wing" (AAW) design. The concept involved the basic structure coupled to advanced controls and general aerodynamic principles to achieve the desired results (namely roll control). The airframe in question was a McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A "Hornet" production carrier-based fighter modified with the new mainplanes and flew for the first time on November 15th, 2002. Only a single example was configured and tested in this manner.

The concept has been around for some time, employed by the Wright Brothers through the "wing-warping" wingtip approach for flight controlling. Utilizing a more modern approach, the NASA product relied on a twisting wing actuated by conventional ailerons and leading-edge flaps. The result was a bending, twisting wing able to provide enhanced agility through only slight movements of the surfaces.

The project got its start in 1996 and the project airframe was worked on in 2001, adding special instrumentation and components to the cockpit including a research flight control computer and data probe at the nose. Flight testing ran into 2005. The aircraft was subject to all manner of tests, both in-air and on the ground, flying at speeds between Mach 0.85 and Mach 1.3 while traversing altitudes of 5,000 feet to 25,000 feet.

The program succeeded in proving a bending/twisting wing was applicable to modern jets, allowing for the development of ever-thinner, higher-aspect ratio mainplanes that doubled-down on efficiency at varying phases of flight.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Boeing X-53 AAW (F/A-18A) Experimental Aircraft.
2 x General Electric F404-GE-400 afterburning turbofan engines developing 16,000 lb of thrust each.
Propulsion
1,190 mph
1,915 kph | 1,034 kts
Max Speed
49,213 ft
15,000 m | 9 miles
Service Ceiling
1,864 miles
3,000 km | 1,620 nm
Operational Range
50,000 ft/min
15,240 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Boeing X-53 AAW (F/A-18A) Experimental Aircraft.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
56.1 ft
17.10 m
O/A Length
38.4 ft
(11.70 m)
O/A Width
15.3 ft
(4.65 m)
O/A Height
39,022 lb
(17,700 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Boeing X-53 AAW (Active Aeroelastic Wing) family line.
X-53 - Base Product Designation; single example completed from F/A-18A Hornet airframe.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Boeing X-53 AAW (Active Aeroelastic Wing). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

Contractor(s): Boeing Company / McDonnell Douglas / Northrop Grumman / NASA - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (retired) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 1200mph
Lo: 600mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (1,190mph).

Graph Average of 900 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
1
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
1 / 1
Image of the Boeing X-53 AAW (Active Aeroelastic Wing)
Image from the NASA.gov image archives.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
X-PLANE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Boeing X-53 AAW (Active Aeroelastic Wing) Experimental Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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