Airbus has signed agreements with two airlines and three air navigation service providers to explore the feasibility of the company’s fello’fly emissions reduction demonstrator project. Fello’fly partners include airlines Frenchbee and SAS Scandinavian Airlines along with France’s Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne (DSNA), the U.K.’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL). The fello’fly concept involves flying two large passenger aircraft close together for long-haul flights in order to improve aircraft performance.
“Inspired by biomimicry, fello’fly is based on Wake Energy Retrieval (WER) to reduce aviation emissions,” Airbus said. “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.”
Flight testing, which will be conducted using two Airbus A350s, is scheduled to begin this year with the newly announced partners being brought in as early as 2021. According to Airbus, it is targeting “the middle of this decade” for the concept’s entry-into-service. Fello’fly is being developed by Airbus subsidiary Airbus UpNext.