Airbus has announced that it has signed agreements with two airline customers, Frenchbee and SAS Scandinavian Airlines, three Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP), France’s DSNA, the UK’s NATS and EUROCONTROL. The agencies will work together to demonstrate the feasibility of an Airbus demonstrator project called fello’fly to reduce aviation emissions.
Fello’fly is inspired by biomimicry and is based on Wake Energy Retrieval (WER) to reduce aviation emissions. WER replicates the behavior of birds, which fly together to reduce their energy consumption. We’ve all seen birds flying in the “V” formation in the sky. What Airbus and its partners want to do with fello’fly is fly two aircraft relatively close together to allow the follower aircraft to retrieve energy lost by a leader aircraft by flying in the smooth draft of air the wake creates.
Airbus says that the plan will reduce fuel consumption in the range of 5 to 10 percent per trip. Frenchbee and SAS will provide the airline expertise and flight planning operations to bring the two aircraft together before and during fello’fly operations. DSNA, NATS, and EUROCONTROL will contribute air navigation expertise that defines how to aircraft can be brought together safely, minimizing the impact on procedures already in place in the airline industry.
Airbus will work on the technical solution to assist pilots in ensuring the aircraft remain safely positioned. Under the agreements, the organizations will develop a safe and realistic concept of operations necessary to shape future operational regulations for fello’flights. Flight testing will take place throughout 2020 using two Airbus A350 aircraft with the involvement of the airlines and ABSPs as early as 2021 in oceanic airspace.
Airbus says that it is targeting a controlled Entry-Into-Service by the middle of the decade. Fello’fly is part of Airbus UpNext, an Airbus subsidiary created to give future technologies and development fast track by building demonstrators at speed and scale. The video in the tweet above shows what Airbus and its partners are planning.