fello’fly aims to demonstrate the technical, operational and commercial viability of two aircraft flying close together during long-haul flights. This collaborative activity has demonstrated it has the potential to make a noteworthy impact on commercial aircraft’s environmental performance.

Taking inspiration from migrating geese

fello’fly, a demonstrator developed within Airbus UpNext during its concept phase, draws inspiration from the “V-shaped” flight pattern of migrating geese. This technique is known as wake energy retrieval – or surfing the air upwash of a lead bird. During commercial aircraft operations, air upwash enables a follower aircraft to benefit from free lift, resulting in less engine thrust and, as a result, reduced fuel consumption. 

A technical solution developed by Airbus ensures aircraft remain safely positioned at a steady altitude throughout “paired” flight. The uplift from the wake has shown it can drive at least a 5% reduction in CO2 emissions per trip. 

Infographic-fello-fly

A collaborative activity to reduce CO2 emissions

Following its first successful transatlantic test flight, fello’fly has proven its end-to-end concept of operations. This means several tons of fuel and CO2 emissions could be saved during every fello’fly trip.

Airbus is collaborating with Frenchbee and SAS Scandinavian Airlines, as well as France’s DSNA (Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne), the UK’s NATS and EUROCONTROL, NAVCANADA and the IAA (Irish Aviation Authority) to continue to demonstrate the operational feasibility of the project. The project benefits from the support of the DGAC, the French Civil Aviation Authority.

fello'fly transatlantic flight test November 2021

Discover fello’fly full Concept of Operations

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The Airbus fello’fly demonstrator project is putting the principles of wake-energy retrieval to the test as a way to reduce CO2 emissions—by between 3 and 4 million tons per year—on widebody operations. But flying two large passenger aircraft close together poses new operational challenges for the aviation ecosystem at large, requiring new procedures to be identified. Airbus has therefore signed agreements with two airline customers and three air navigation service providers (ANSPs) to tackle these challenges head on.
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