Shark-skin technology lets planes fly fast with less fuel

Read the full story from Bloomberg.

Earlier this year, a Lufthansa Group Boeing 747-400 flying on the carrier’s international route of networks in Asia sported an unusual covering on its underside. Attached to portions of the craft’s lower fuselage and belly fairing was a thin film-like coating imprinted with a ribbed texture of small protrusions, each about 50 micrometers high. The riblets on the surface of the film, dubbed AeroSHARK, are designed to reduce friction between the aircraft’s surface and the air around it in a bid to cut fuel consumption and lower carbon emissions.

The film, inspired by shark skin and its well-known ability to reduce drag in water, is a prime example of what’s known as biomimicry. But it’s more than that. AeroSHARK is also an example of the measures the airline industry is willing to take amid a heightened focus on the industry’s contributions to anthropogenic greenhouse-gases. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, traveling by air contributed about 2.5% of greenhouse gases. With travel bouncing back and the industry pledging to cut emissions to zero, the pressure is on to eke out any way possible to make flying greener. 

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