Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Sharkskin technology helps airlines save fuel and reduce emissions

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has granted Lufthansa Technik a so-called Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) that paves the way for the series modification of two Boeing 777 variants with the fuel-saving AeroSHARK riblet films.

Through the STC, the sub-fleet-wide roll-out of this sustainability-focused technology, developed jointly by Lufthansa Technik and chemicals company BASF, can now commence at the launch customers Lufthansa Cargo and Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS).

Thanks to its special surface structure of microscopic ribs, called riblets, the AeroSHARK coating reduces the frictional resistance of the aircraft skin. As a result, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced by around 1%. For each Boeing 777-300ER operated by SWISS, this represents an annual saving of around 400 tons of fuel and more than 1,200 tons of carbon dioxide. The slightly shorter Boeing 777F saves around 370 tons of fuel and 1,170 tons of CO2 each year.

The first AeroSHARK-equipped Boeing 777-300ER of the Swiss airline (HB-JNH) had already begun daily operations in October using a temporary “Permit-to-Fly” from the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) that was valid for this single aircraft only. The STC now allows Lufthansa Technik to serially apply the nature-inspired riblet films to any given Boeing 777-300ER and 777F aircraft.

The AeroSHARK modification of HB-JNH already began at the end of August and culminated in STC flights with EASA on September 8 and 9. These flights were undertaken to collect detailed proof that the AeroSHARK modification had no negative impact on the operational safety and handling of the Boeing 777. The initial flights were followed by several weeks of evaluation of the collected data and other documents, such as measured values from flow simulations. After recently completing its review of all submitted documents, EASA finally granted the STC.

“The approval of AeroSHARK for the Boeing 777 variants is an important step in the distribution of this new technology for more sustainability in air transport,” said Soeren Stark, Chief Executive Officer of Lufthansa Technik. “With our partner BASF, we can now support our customers in making entire sub-fleets more climate-friendly. Moreover, we intend to realize the use of the new technology for further aircraft types. We are the only MRO company in the world to offer such solutions to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions for commercial aircraft. We are naturally very proud of this.”

AeroSHARK will now be installed on SWISS, and Lufthansa Cargo’s all twelve 777-300ERs and eleven 777Fs. They will thus be the first passenger and cargo airlines in the world to optimize a complete sub-fleet with the riblet films. Once all Boeing 777s at Lufthansa Cargo and SWISS have received their AeroSHARK modification, they will reduce the Lufthansa Group’s carbon footprint by more than 25,000 tons per year.