AIRCRAFT manufacturers taking inspiration from gulls to improve planes' design.

FOR those of you who don't know, flexing their elbows enables gulfs to adapt their wing shape to gusty conditions. This in turn, has now inspired aircraft manufacturers to emulate the bird's structure in order to make a flawless plane.

The study showed that the design of a gull's wing points to a novel and fairly simple, avian-inspired joint that may enable aircraft to adjust dynamically to challenging conditions.

As wing speeds and maximum gusts increase, gulls sacrifice stability for maneuverability. By altering the angle of their elbow joint, they shift from extended wing configurations to a flexed configuration, pulling the tips of their wings in and back.

The flexed shape gives them more control. ''While we know birds frequently alter their wing shape, this is the first empirical evidence demonstrating that wing morphing affects avian stability,'' said senior author Douglas Altshuler, Zoologist from the University of British Columbia [UBC] in Canada.

The finding were published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. To determine the stability of different wing shapes, the researchers prepared gull wings over the anatomical elbow range and measured their performance in a wind tunnel and observed gulls in the wild.

It is not enough for birds to simply produce sufficient lift and thrust. They must also control and stabilise their flight paths to be able to successfully forage and migrate in their natural habitat, said Christina Harvey. Researcher with the University of Michigan in the US. [Courtesy Hindustan Times]


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