Airbus has launched the Fello ’fly project, which aims to test the idea that two commercial aircraft can improve flight efficiency by flying in tandem.
As has happened many times, the idea was suggested by nature. In this case, scientists borrowed the concept from migratory birds, which line up in the air in a wedge. It has long been known that during such a flight, the birds in front generate lifting vortices, making it easier for those who fly behind (older, more experienced and strong birds, led by the leader, fly in front).
The Fello ’fly project is an attempt to repeat the“ technology ”of bird flight, which has been used by nature for millions of years. When an airplane moves in the air, most of the energy it expended is wasted. If the next flying plane will be able to “ride” the lifting vortices remaining behind it, then it will already have to spend much less energy, which will reduce engine thrust and reduce gas emissions into the atmosphere. According to estimates, such a flight technology will save 5 to 10% of fuel over long distances.
While this is all in theory. Project participants report that they still have to solve a number of technical problems. The immediate task is to develop a system of assistance to pilots to maintain the position of the “slave” aircraft, which is in the upward flow at a safe distance and height from the “master”. For this, it is planned to use two A350 aircraft. Flight tests are scheduled to begin in 2020.