Lufthansa and its cargo division are both seeking to make flying as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible. The German flag carrier is now looking to nature to help achieve this goal, with the rollout of sharkskin technology targetted for the airline’s Boeing 777F fleet beginning next year.
Nature has inspired the aviation industry in many ways. Typically the inspiration comes from flying creatures due to the common denominator between the two. It’s not just birds that have solutions for the industry, though. Some sea creatures are also being copied for their streamlined evolution. Now sharks are helping to make aviation even more efficient.
Sharks improving efficiency?
From next year, Lufthansa Cargo will be working with Lufthansa Technik to equip its entire fleet of Boeing 777F aircraft with sharkskin technology. But how can sharks help to make aircraft more efficient?
AeroSHARK is a film applied to the surface of an aircraft. It resembles the fine structure of a shark’s skin. Lasers create a pattern of grooves in the top layer of the aircraft’s paint. These grooves are around 50 micrometers big and reduce the friction between the aircraft and the air while flying. In simple terms, due to the lower friction, the aircraft doesn’t need to work as hard to fly, leading to fuel savings.
Interestingly, it seems as though these fuel savings won’t be insignificant. According to Lufthansa, the technology will reduce an aircraft’s drag by 1%. Across the fleet of ten Boeing 777F aircraft, the airline believes that it will save around 3,700 tons of jet fuel each year. This, in turn, will lead to a reduction of CO2 emissions by approximately 11,700 tonnes. This would be comparable to canceling 48 freight flights from Frankfurt to Shanghai.
Commenting on the plan, Christina Foerster, Member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG with responsibility for sustainability,
“We have always played a leading role in introducing environmentally friendly technologies. The new sharkskin technology for aircraft shows what strong and highly innovative partners can achieve collectively for the environment. This will help us to achieve our goal of climate neutrality by 2050.”
Carbon neutral flights
Sharkskin technology isn’t the only way that Lufthansa Cargo is working on its environmental impact. A month ago, the freight specialist revealed that it was operating weekly carbon neutral flights from Frankfurt to Shanghai using Sustainable Aviation Fuels.
Throughout the summer schedule, the airline estimates a reduction in CO2 emissions of 20,250 tons thanks to the initiative. This will save around 174 tons of regular jet fuel each week. While SAFs don’t get rid of emissions, they rely on carbon already in the ecosystem rather than adding new carbon previously locked away under the ground.
What do you make of this new sharkskin technology? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!