An adaptive compliant wing is a wing which is flexible so that aspects of its shape can be changed in flight.
An adaptive compliant wing designed by FlexSys Inc. features a variable-cambertrailing edge which can be deflected up to ±10°, so that it acts like a flap-equipped wing, but without the individual segments and gaps typical in a flap system. The wing itself can be twisted up to 1° per foot of span. The wing's shape can be changed at a rate of 30° per second, which is ideal for gust load alleviation. The development of the adaptive compliant wing is being sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Initially, the wing was tested in a wind tunnel, and then a 50-inch section of wing was flight tested on board the Scaled Composites White Knight research aircraft in a seven-flight, 20-hour program operated from the Mojave Spaceport. Control methods are proposed.
Adaptive compliant wings are also investigated at ETH Zurich in the frame of the Smart airfoil project.