Airbus will have fuel-saving v-formation flight tests of two Airbus A350 aircraft with airline tests as early as 2021 with flights over oceans. Flying in v-formation could reduce fuel usage by 5-10%.
Airbus is targeting a controlled Entry-Into-Service (EIS) by around 2025. Fello’fly is part of Airbus UpNext, an Airbus subsidiary created to give future technologies a development fast track by building demonstrators at speed and scale.
Talking about followers 🦅🦅: we are teaming up with @flyfrenchbee @SAS @DGAC #DSNA @NATS and @eurocontrol, to show how our #fellofly demonstrator can fly 2 aircraft safely together, reducing fuel burn to contribute to the industry’s #sustainability goals. https://t.co/YlucUOTGTH pic.twitter.com/YOdMqIzbEe
— Airbus (@Airbus) September 9, 2020
In 2016, a series of Airbus flight tests demonstrated that significant fuel savings could be achieved when two aircraft fly approximately 3 kilometers apart—without compromising passenger comfort.
Air traffic management technology was not mature enough to enable aircraft to fly so close together in airspace. Improvements in real-time flight tracking and other air traffic technology are now being made. The new air traffic technology can make it safe to fly planes 3000 meters apart to get fuel savings. The goal of fello’fly is to prove the technical, operational and economic viability of wake-energy retrieval for commercial aircraft.
Airbus UpNext Projects
ATTOL – Autonomous Taxi, Take-off and Landing
The Autonomous Taxi, Take-off and Landing (ATTOL) project works to leverage computer-vision technologies and techniques to enable commercial aircraft to navigate and detect obstacles during taxi, take off, approach and landing. Fully autonomous test flights were successfully completed in 2020.
The ATTOL team is working closely with the Wayfinder team to advance autonomous flight technology at Airbus. The Wayfinder project—based at Acubed, Airbus’ innovation hub in Silicon Valley—aims to develop scalable, certifiable autonomy systems for aircraft, ranging from small urban air vehicles to large commercial aircraft.
Wayfinder software uses computer vision and machine learning to enable aircraft to detect its surrounding environment and calculate how best to navigate within it. Much like an autonomous car, it uses sensors such as cameras, radar, LiDAR—a laser-based detection method—and powerful on-board computers.
Maveric Blended Wing Airplanes
MAVERIC is a small-scale, remote-controlled aircraft demonstrator. The development of demonstrators like MAVERIC enables Airbus to accelerate understanding of new aircraft configurations and to mature the technology necessary to fly such a radically different aircraft.
The TELEO project will provide seamless smart routing in satellite constellations (LEO and GEO). TELEO will also boost ground-to-space communication data rates thanks to ultra-high throughput optical links. Flight demonstration is expected by end-2021.
Reliable Connected Fleet
Another project plans to revolutionize connectivity architecture by combining dependable and secure communications with superior service quality. The final demonstration will go live in 2019.
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com