Following nature’s example, Lufthansa Technik and BASF have jointly developed the functional surface film AeroSHARK for commercial aircraft. The film is modeled on the microscopic structure of shark skin and is applied to the aircraft’s outer skin. It directly reduces aircraft drag, cuts kerosene consumption and thus CO2 emissions.
AeroSHARK consists of millions of ribs around 50 micrometers in size, known as riblets. They imitate the properties of shark skin and thus optimize aerodynamics at flow-relevant points of the aircraft such as the fuselage or the engine nacelles. As a result, less fuel is required. By covering 950 square meters of a Boeing 777-300ER’s outer skin, for example, annual savings of around 400 tons of kerosene and more than 1,200 tons of CO2 can be achieved.
The Lufthansa Group will be the first airline group in the world to equip more than 20 long-haul aircraft in its fleet with aerodynamic sharkskin film. Following extensive testing and a certification process lasting several months, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has now granted Lufthansa Technik a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the series application of this technology on two Boeing 777 models.
In the future, all 12 long-haul B777-300ER aircraft at SWISS will fly with the fuel-saving surface technology. The same applies to Lufthansa Cargo’s current fleet of 11 Boeing 777F freighters. The first SWISS aircraft equipped with AeroSHARK (registration HB-JNH) has already been in scheduled service since October 2022. This aircraft had also completed the flight test program for the certification it has now received. The Boeing 777 aircraft in Frankfurt and Zurich are scheduled to be modified with the riblet films next.
“For a more sustainable future in aviation, we are consistently driving change in our industry. Our ambitious goal: a neutral CO2 balance by 2050. Already by 2030, we want to halve our net CO2 emissions compared to 2019,” said Christina Foerster, Member of the Lufthansa Group’s Executive Board, responsible for Brand and Sustainability. “By covering more than 20 aircraft with the new sharkskin film, we will reduce the Lufthansa Group’s CO2 footprint by more than 25,000 tons annually,” she added.