SWISS AeroSHARK Upgrade
SWISS has decided to equip its entire Boeing long-haul fleet with the fuel-saving AeroSHARK surface technology
Starting in the middle of the year, a total of 12 Boeing 777-300ERs will gradually be fitted with the riblet films developed jointly by Lufthansa Technik and BASF. The significantly reduced frictional resistance resulting from this modification will make the sub-fleet more than one per cent more fuel-efficient and lower in emissions.
Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is the first passenger airline worldwide to use innovative surface technology to significantly reduce fuel consumption and emissions on one of its existing fleets, thereby improving both economy and ecology. With approximately 950m2 of riblet film, the modification of the ‘long’ Boeing 777-300ER will be even larger than the 800m2 on the Boeing 777F of AeroSHARK’s launch customer Lufthansa Cargo. The potential for fuel and CO2 savings on this scale is around 1.1 per cent. Converted to the operational profile of the Boeing 777-300ER at SWISS, this means annual savings of more than 4,800 tons of kerosene and roughly 15,200 tons of carbon dioxide, as much as is usually generated on approximately 87 long-haul flights from Zurich to Mumbai.
“Reducing our environmental footprint is one of the biggest challenges facing the aviation industry, and becoming carbon-neutral by 2050 is an important strategic goal for SWISS,” says Dieter Vranckx, Chief Executive Officer of SWISS. “We are keen to actively promote and invest in the use of new technologies. We are pleased to be the world’s first passenger airline to offer the innovative AeroSHARK technology on our Boeing 777 fleet, making another important contribution to more sustainable air travel in the future.”
Reduced environmental footprint
“Due to the long lifecycles in our industry, we cannot only rely on new aircraft generations to reduce our environmental footprint but also need to specifically optimise existing fleets towards sustainability,” explains Dr Johannes Bussmann, Chief Executive Officer of Lufthansa Technik. “AeroSHARK makes a significant contribution to this, and I am very pleased that SWISS is leading the way.”
“In developing our Novaflex Sharkskin surfaces, the focus was on a robust yet functional solution that meets the stringent requirements of the aviation and also helps our customers achieve their sustainability goals,” says Uta Holzenkamp, head of BASF’s Coatings division and as such also responsible for functional films. “The fact that SWISS is convinced by our solution shows that economic action and sustainability go hand in hand.”
SWISS will install AeroSHARK on its Boeing 777-300ER fleet successively from mid-2022 during suitable maintenance layovers. The airline had already supported Lufthansa Technik and BASF during the development phase of AeroSHARK: In the summer of 2021, a Boeing 777 wing was precisely measured for the entire duration of a regularly scheduled flight between Zurich and San Francisco. With the data collected, Lufthansa Technik was subsequently able to create highly accurate 3D models for flow simulations, based on which the AeroSHARK modification is to be extended to the wings of the Boeing 777 in the near future to realise further savings potential. SWISS will also provide one of its aircraft for the so-called STC flight to obtain the required Supplemental Type Certificate from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
AeroSHARK is a surface technology developed jointly by Lufthansa Technik and BASF that consists of ribs around 50 micrometres in size – known as riblets. It specifically imitates the properties of sharkskin, which has particularly favourable flow characteristics, and thus optimises aerodynamics at relevant points on the aircraft. As a result, less fuel is needed overall. Lufthansa Technik and BASF intend to systematically develop the new technology further in the direction of additional aircraft types and even larger surfaces so that in the future they will be able to provide airlines around the world with even more extensive support in achieving their emissions targets. In initial model calculations, the sharkskin technology in its maximum expansion stage could even cut CO2 emissions by up to 3%.