Airbus has signed agreements with two airline customers; Frenchbee and SAS Scandinavian Airlines, as well as three Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP); France’s DSNA (Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne), the UK’s NATS and EUROCONTROL to demonstrate the operational feasibility of Airbus’ demonstrator project, fello’fly, for reducing aviation emissions.
Inspired by biomimicry, fello’fly is based on Wake Energy Retrieval (WER) to reduce aviation emissions. WER replicates the behaviour of birds, which fly together to reduce their energy consumption. The technique of a follower aircraft retrieving energy lost by a leader, by flying in the smooth updraft of air the wake creates, reduces fuel consumption in the range of 5-10% per trip.
Frenchbee and SAS will provide airline expertise in flight planning and operations for the collaborative requirements necessary for bringing together aircraft before and during a fello’fly operation. DSNA, NATS and EUROCONTROL will contribute air navigation expertise defining how two aircraft can be brought safely together, minimising impact on today’s procedures. In parallel Airbus will continue working on the technical solution to assist pilots in ensuring that aircraft remain safely positioned.
Under the agreements, Airbus, Frenchbee, SAS, DSNA, NATS and EUROCONTROL will develop a safe and realistic concept of operations (CONOPS) necessary to shape future operational regulations for fello’flights. Flight testing will take place throughout 2020 using two Airbus A350 aircraft, with the involvement of the airlines and ANSPs as early as 2021 in an oceanic airspace.
Given the high potential to make a significant impact on emissions reduction for the aviation industry as a whole, directly contributing to the sector’s sustainable growth goals, Airbus is targeting a controlled Entry-Into-Service (EIS), which is expected by the middle of this decade.
fello’fly is part of Airbus UpNext, an Airbus subsidiary created to give future technologies a development fast track by building demonstrators at speed and scale.