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Learning from nature


Lufthansa tests the effects of shark skin in flight

Two Lufthansa Airbus A340-300s are taking part in a very special mission as part of a trial scheduled to run until summer 2013. Eight 10 x 10 cm test patches have been placed on the fuselage and leading edge of the wings of each Airbus as part of the Multifunctional Coating research project. These two aircraft play a key role in the project, in which Lufthansa Technik AG has participated since mid-2011 along with its partners Airbus Operations and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) in Bremen.

The aim of the research is to test the durability of a surface coating for aircraft that mimics shark skin under real-life flying conditions. The riblets that cover the entire skin of fast-swimming sharks reduce turbulent vortices and the drag they cause. This diminishes surface resistance when moving at speed.

Thanks to a new technique developed by the Fraunhofer Institute in Bremen, shark skin structures can be embossed into aircraft paints. According to the latest research findings, this aerodynamic surface could reduce fuel consumption by about one per cent and lower operating costs.

More information is available on the website:

Deutsche Lufthansa AG
Media Relations Lufthansa Group

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