NASA engineer Larry Hudson and Ikhana ground crew member James Smith work on a ground validation test with new fiber optic sensors that led to validation flights on the Ikhana aircraft.
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center is evaluating an advanced fiber optic-based sensing technology installed on the wings of NASA's Ikhana aircraft. The fiber optic system measures and displays the shape of the aircraft's wings in flight. There are other potential safety applications for the technology, such as vehicle structural health monitoring. If an aircraft structure can be monitored with sensors and a computer can manipulate flight control surfaces to compensate for stresses on the wings, structural control can be established to prevent situations that might otherwise result in a loss of control.