Ikhana fiber optic wing shape sensor team: clockwise from left, Anthony "Nino" Piazza, Allen Parker, William Ko and Lance Richards. The sensors, located along a fiber the thickness of a human hair, aren't visible in the center of the Ikhana aircraft's left wing.
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.