Ever since the introduction of standardized Lycoming racing engines in 2014, the Red Bull Air Race teams have focused their engineering efforts into the aerodynamic performance of their airframes.
Any possible drag reduction is now more important than ever. The more aerodynamically sleek the airframe, the more speed the race plane will carry around the track.
Team Goulian’s new 2015 race airplane incorporates shorter gear legs with state-of-the-art wheel pants, and a wing with slightly different dimensions than the previous season’s aircraft. These changes help the #99 Edge retain more energy around the tightest corners, carrying that extra speed during the run and through the start/finish gate, officials note.
A project that began in the off-season, the new canopy was shipped from North Carolina earlier this month to meet with the race airplane in Japan.
With a shape inspired by the SR-71 Blackbird, the new canopy is expected to be the single most effective improvement made to the aircraft in the past months, according to Goulian.
According to data collected, this canopy generates almost half the drag of the original, and weighs considerably less. Having posted the fastest net time during one of the practice sessions in Abu Dhabi last February, Goulian said he is confident that the feat will be repeated in Japan:
“Constant improvement is what it takes to win in the Red Bull Air Race and we are here for nothing short of that,” he said. “We will continue to chase for every thousandth of a second we can find in this aircraft, day after day. We have the best partners to help us do it, and a very motivated team. The plane was amazing off the blocks when the season started, and now I can’t wait to see how it will do with the latest upgrades. Being in such a magical place like Japan, with an amazing crowd makes this the perfect scenario for an air race.”