Flocking For Financial Safety  

Posted by Big Gav in

The SMh has a report on an academic proposal for aircraft to flock like geese, with the aim of reducing fuel costs - Aircraft could flock to save fuel.

AIRCRAFT flying in geese-like formation, refuelling at service stations in the sky and making extra stops over long distances have been suggested as radical ways for airlines to save fuel.

Nick Lieven, dean of engineering at Bristol University, told the Asia Pacific Aviation Conference in Sydney that such "wacky" measures could be considered if the oil price kept rising.

Professor Lieven said studies had found that "flocking" could provide a fuel saving of about 20%. "Birds are very clever and if you think of the way they fly, the lead bird creates a vortex which then makes it easier for the other birds to fly as well, and they rotate around every so often," he said.

Professor Lieven said aircraft could also refuel in mid-air, a practice used by military aircraft. "The difficulty is not the in-flight refuelling technology but what happens if you miss the refuelling stop," he said.

Professor Lieven said both ideas were probably about 20 years off and would realistically only be used for cargo planes.

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