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Slipstreaming next for flights?

A flock of planes? Fortunately the planes wouldn’t be that close

They’re the original, and greatest long-distance flyers; and now migratory birds, specifically geese, have become the inspiration for a Boeing concept that will look to save airlines fuel, and ultimately lower airfares for consumers.


The aviation giant, together with NASA, thinks that by flying aircraft in a V-shaped formation similar to that used by Canada geese, carriers would be able to increase efficiency without large structural changes or technology.


The slipstreaming of planes would use navigation and collision avoidance tools already in use on aircraft.  



“Think of a car drafting a truck, or one bike rider drafting another,” Boeing product development vice president Mike Sinnett told Bloomberg.


“It essentially allows you, if you are flying in the right spot, to reduce your fuel burn. But you’ve got to be there for a long time.”


Called wake surfing, the concept involves using energy from a lead plane, and could save airlines 10%-15% in fuel costs.


The downside to the idea, aside from current requirements on minimum spacing between planes, is scheduling, which in the crucial ascent and descent of planes would present huge challenges.


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 9 August 2017

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