New research could lead to more efficient takeoffs on airport runways and improve safety. A mathematical tool was developed to calculate the flow of turbulent air produced by a plane’s wing tips — known scientifically as wing-tip vortices — when an airplane takes off. The study will assist in improving the present standards for the separation distance between planes, while maintaining safety. Mathematically calculating the amount of turbulence created by the wing tips of aircraft, particularly during takeoff, gives air traffic controllers a better method of determining how far each aircraft should be from the next.

The model takes the airplane’s specifications into account to develop a more precise picture of exactly how strong the wing tip vortices are. From that, you can accurately calculate how far away the following aircraft needs to be for safety. The team recreated the swirling vortices of air produced by the wing tips of aircraft during takeoff. This turbulent air is particularly dangerous when it comes to the wake created by heavy, wide-body aircrafts.

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