MIAMI – According to Lufthansa Cargo (LH), all its Boeing 777 freighters will be equipped with AeroSHARK surface film starting in 2022. The surface technology developed by Lufthansa Technik and BASF increases fuel efficiency and helps airlines meet sustainability goals.

AeroSHARK, a surface film that mimics the fine structure of shark skin, will be installed on LH’s Cargo’s entire freighter fleet starting in 2022, making the planes more fuel-efficient and lowering emissions.

The lower an aircraft’s frictional resistance in the air, the less fuel it consumes. For several years, the aviation industry has been exploring ways to minimize aerodynamic drag using nature as a blueprint. As part of a joint project, Lufthansa Technik and BASF have now achieved the breakthrough.

According to a company press release, the surface structure, which is made up of riblets measuring about 50 micrometers, replicates the properties of sharkskin and thus improves the aerodynamics of the aircraft’s flow-related components. As a result, less fuel is needed overall.

Lufthansa Technik forecasts a drag reduction of more than 1% for Lufthansa Cargo’s Boeing 777F freighters. This translates to annual savings of about 3,700 tons of kerosene and just under 11,700 tons of CO2 emissions for the entire fleet of ten aircraft, which is the equivalent of 48 individual freight flights from Frankfurt to Shanghai.

Photo: Lufthansa

Comments from LH, BASF

Christina Foerster, Member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG with responsibility for sustainability, says, “Responsibility for the environment and community is a core strategic concern for us.” 

“We’ve always been at the forefront of developing environmentally sustainable technology. The new sharkskin technology for aircraft demonstrates what can be accomplished for the environment when strong and highly creative partners work together. This will assist us in meeting our 2050 climate neutrality goal.”, she added.

On his part, Dr. Markus Kamieth, a member of BASF’s Board of Executive Directors, says, “The aviation industry, like the chemical industry, is up against common obstacles in terms of climate security, amid high energy demands. We’ve made significant progress by working closely together and effectively integrating our surface design and aerodynamics expertise. This is an excellent example of sustainability in motion, accomplished by partnership-based cooperation and creative technologies.”

“We are pleased to announce that, thanks to sharkskin technology, we will be able to run our entire freighter fleet even more effectively in the future, reducing our modern fleet’s carbon footprint even more. The investments we’ve made in bringing AeroSHARK to Lufthansa Cargo reaffirm our contribution to the United Nations’ sustainable development goal on climate action,” says Dorothea von Boxberg, CEO of Lufthansa Cargo AG.

“As a global market leader in specialist aircraft services, we have always used our wealth of knowledge to help reduce our industry's environmental footprint.” Dr. Johannes Bussmann, Lufthansa Technik AG CEO. Click To Tweet

American Journal of Transportation reports that Lufthansa Technik is responsible for the content selection, approval by aviation authorities, and execution of aircraft modifications carried out as part of routine maintenance layovers in collaboration with BASF.

The company will receive a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the 777F from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is essential for service, based on decades of experience as an accredited aviation design organization.

Photo: Lufthansa

Beyond Paint Solutions BASF Unit

In its Beyond Paint Solutions unit, BASF’s Coatings division is designing creative, practical films, such as the riblet surfaces. In collaboration with Lufthansa Technik, a solution was developed that meets the stringent requirements of the aviation industry. External surfaces used in aviation are subjected to a variety of factors, including heavy UV radiation, temperature and pressure variations at high altitudes, and so on.

As a result, BASF has concentrated its research and development efforts on achieving severe longevity and weather resistance. Simple application and handling, as well as ease of repair, are key requirements for use in aviation operations, for which a custom concept has been developed.

“As a surface specialist, we create tailored solutions for our clients.“ According to Dirk Bremm, head of BASF’s Coatings division and also responsible for functional films in this position, “the groundbreaking sharkskin technology helps us to help Lufthansa in achieving its sustainability goals and in making the aviation industry a little more environmentally friendly.”

Featured image: Lufthansa