From 2022, Lufthansa Cargo will install AeroSHARK on all Boeing 777 freighters.
Surface technology developed by Lufthansa Technik and BASF increases fuel efficiency and assists airlines in meeting sustainability goals.
The lower an aircraft’s frictional resistance in the air, the less fuel it consumes. For several years, the aviation industry has been exploring ways to minimize aerodynamic drag using nature as a blueprint. As part of a joint project, Lufthansa Technik and BASF have now achieved the breakthrough. AeroSHARK, a surface film that mimics the fine structure of shark skin, will be installed on Lufthansa Cargo’s entire freighter fleet starting in 2022, making the planes more fuel efficient and lowering emissions.
The surface structure, which is made up of riblets measuring about 50 micrometers, mimics the properties of sharkskin and thus improves the aerodynamics of the aircraft’s flow-related components. As a result, less fuel is needed overall. Lufthansa Technik forecasts a drag reduction of more than 1% for Lufthansa Cargo’s Boeing 777F freighters. This translates to annual savings of about 3,700 tons of kerosene and just under 11,700 tons of CO2 emissions for the entire fleet of ten aircraft, which is the equivalent of 48 individual freight flights from Frankfurt to Shanghai.
“Responsibility for the environment and society is a key strategic topic for us,” says 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.”
“The aviation industry is facing similar challenges to the chemical industry: ongoing progress must be made with climate protection despite high energy requirements. By collaborating closely and successfully combining our know-how in surface design and aerodynamics, we have now succeeded in taking a major step forward. This is an excellent example of sustainability in practice, achieved through partnership-based collaboration and innovative technologies,” says Dr. Markus Kamieth, Member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF.
“We are proud that we will now be able to operate our entire freighter fleet even more efficiently in the future thanks to sharkskin technology and reduce the carbon footprint of our modern fleet further. The investments we have made in rolling out AeroSHARK at Lufthansa Cargo consciously reaffirm our commitment to the United Nation’s sustainable development goal on climate action,” explains Dorothea von Boxberg, Chief Executive Officer of Lufthansa Cargo AG.
The Material Specialization, Aircraft approval and performance modifications made by aircraft as part of regular maintenance layovers are under Lufthansa Technik’s responsibility in cooperation with BASF. The company will be awarded the supplementary type certificate (STC) for the 777F by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, which is requested for operation, on the support of decades of experience as an approved aviation design organization.
“We have always used our wealth of expertise as a global market leader in technical aircraft services to also contribute to reducing the ecological footprint of our industry. In doing so, we can leverage significant savings potential from all aircraft generations,” explains Dr. Johannes Bussmann, Chief Executive Officer of Lufthansa Technik AG. “I am therefore very proud that we will soon be able to transfer the positive findings of the validation phase into the series application with Lufthansa Cargo. The extremely constructive collaboration with BASF is also the best example of cross-sector cooperation in the interest of the sustainability of the aviation industry.”
In its Beyond Paint Solutions unit, BASF’s Coatings division is designing creative, practical films, such as the riblet surfaces. In collaboration with Lufthansa Technik, a solution was developed that meets the stringent requirements of the aviation industry. External surfaces used in aviation are subjected to a variety of factors, including heavy UV radiation, temperature and pressure variations at high altitudes, and so on.
As a result, BASF has concentrated its research and development efforts on achieving severe longevity and weather resistance. Simple application and handling, as well as ease of repair, are key requirements for use in aviation operations, for which a custom concept has been developed.
“As an expert in surfaces, we implement bespoke solutions for our customers. The innovative sharkskin technology allows us to support Lufthansa in achieving its sustainability goals and in making the aviation industry a little more environmentally friendly,” says Dirk Bremm, head of BASF’s Coatings division and also responsible for functional films in this role.