This question is related to the recent possibility of solar aircraft becoming flyable. Solar Impulse, the NASA Helios, and the Titan Aerospace/Ascenta Aerospace solar drones have all have issues with making robust structures that can maintain station through atmospheric wind shear. So far, the best approach has been to wait out bad weather before attempting a flight.

My question is this, could the structure be actively controlled using distributed electric propulsion to smooth out the unsteady loads? Where if a section of the wing gets hit with high speed air, the rest of the motors on the wing spin faster to accelerate the flow over the other parts of the wing?

The reasons I can think of this not being doable now are the slow response time for spooling up the motors. And this means getting away with accelerating the bare minimum of air over the wing (basically only the boundary layer). Has this been done yet and shown in flight?

  • $\begingroup$ That seems possible, but I think you're right--the response time would be too slow to be effective in rapidly changing wind shear conditions. On top of that, the moments created by the unbalanced thrust in that case may be more detrimental than the wind shear. $\endgroup$ – Geoff Apr 6 '18 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ Use camber flaps instead. A good example are the A380 ailerons which actively lower gust loads (valse d'ailerons) $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Jan 6 '19 at 20:45

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