SWISS equips Boeing 777-300ER fleet with AeroSHARK

SWISS International Air Lines will equip its entire Boeing long-haul fleet with the fuel-saving AeroSHARK surface technology.

Image Credit: SWISS International Air Lines

AeroSHARK was jointly developed by: Lufthansa Technic and BASF† It consists of ribs about 50 micrometers in size – also called riblets. The surface technology imitates the properties of sharkskin, which has favorable flow properties and optimizes aerodynamics at relevant points in the aircraft. As a result, less fuel is needed in total.

From mid-2022, a total of twelve Boeing 777-300ERs will gradually be provided with the riblet foils. According to SWISS, the significantly reduced frictional drag resulting from the change will make the sub-fleet more than one percent more fuel efficient and with fewer emissions.

SWISS is the world’s first passenger airline to use AeroSHARK technology to reduce fuel consumption and emissions from one of its existing fleets. With approximately 950 m² of riblet film, the adaptation of the ‘long’ Boeing 777-300ER will exceed 800 m² on the Boeing 777F of AeroSHARK’s launching customer, Lufthansa Cargo.

The potential fuel and CO2 savings — about 1.1 percent — would result in annual savings of more than 4,800 tons of kerosene and about 15,200 tons of carbon dioxide when converted to the operational profile of the twelve Boeing 777-300ERs at SWISS, just as much as is usually generated on about 87 long-haul flights from Zurich to Mumbai.

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Dieter Vranckx, CEO of SWISS said: “Reducing our environmental footprint is one of the biggest challenges for the aviation industry, and becoming carbon neutral by 2050 is an important strategic goal for SWISS.”

SWISS had already supported Lufthansa Technik and BASF during the AeroSHARK development phase – in the summer of 2021, a Boeing 777 wing was accurately measured for the entire duration of a regularly scheduled flight between Zurich and San Francisco. With the data collected, Lufthansa Technik was able to create highly accurate 3D models for flow simulations based on which the AeroSHARK modification will be extended to the wings of the Boeing 777 in the near future to realize further savings potential.

The airline will also make one of its aircraft available for the so-called STC flight in order to obtain the required Supplemental Type Certificate from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

“When developing our Novaflex Sharkskin surfaces, the focus was on a robust yet functional solution that meets the stringent requirements of aerospace while also helping our customers achieve their sustainability goals,” said Uta Holzenkamp, ​​Head of Coatings division of BASF. “The fact that SWISS is convinced of our solution shows that economic action and sustainability go hand in hand.”

Lufthansa Technik and BASF plan to systematically develop AeroSHARK technology for additional aircraft types and larger surfaces. In the first model calculations, the companies have reported that the technology could avoid CO2 emissions by up to three percent in the maximum expansion phase.

Abhishek Maheswari
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