CubCrafters Tests Electric Lift Augmentation Slats

The innovation will dramatically increase wing lift, perhaps as much as four times that of a non-equipped wing, the company said.

An ELAS equipped CubCrafters NX Cub prepares for initial flight testing. [Courtesy: CubCrafters]

CubCrafters, the Yakima-based aircraft manufacturer famous for its backcountry designs, has entered the electric aircraft race.

The company has introduced a new engineering innovation called Electric Lift Augmenting Slats (ELAS), which it says will dramatically increase wing lift, perhaps as much as four times the lift as a non-equipped wing of the same design can generate.

The company is in the process of finalizing the initial prototype design and will then begin the flight-testing phase.

According to CubCrafters, the ELAS, which was granted U.S. Patent 10,926,868, "combines electric ducted fans with leading edge lifting slats, to accelerate airflow over the wing of an aircraft."

The acceleration of the airflow over the wings results in an increase of lift.

"The system also allows the wing to achieve better aerodynamic performance at slower speeds and higher angles of attack, reducing the stall speed of the aircraft and improving its slow speed handling characteristics," the aircraft manufacturer notes.

Patrick Horgan, CEO of CubCrafters notes that ELAS is currently being tested in collaboration with CubCrafters’ research institution partner, Oklahoma State University School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering using both computer simulations and wind tunnel testing.

The purpose, says Hogan, is to "Refine refine the design in preparation for a comprehensive test flight program using a CubCrafters XCub test airplane configured with the ELAS prototype system,”

The company has released a YouTube video of the testing:

ELAS explained

According to CubCrafters, ELAS will enhance an aircraft's STOL characteristics, noting that "by adding leading edge slats with multiple integrated electric ducted fans, ELAS creates high energy airflow through and around the slats—airflow that ultimately boosts lift by a factor of 1.5 to 4.0 depending on the airfoil geometry and flight conditions."

This will result in shorter takeoff distances, better performance at slower speeds, steeper approaches and minimal ground roll.

The technology can be retrofitted to an existing airframe or built into the wings as original equipment and can be designed as retractable when not in use.

The development of CubCrafters ELAS technology was helped by two research grants awarded by NASA through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These programs offer federal grants to small U.S.-based businesses to support high-impact research and development projects with an emphasis on the development of new technologies.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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