EASA awards certification to Lufthansa Technik to install 'shark skin' technology on Boeing 777 aircraft

Lufthansa Boeing 777F BASF AeroShark

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has awarded Lufthansa Technology, the Supplementary Type Certificate (STC) which officially paves the way for the series modification of two variants of the Boeing 777 with fuel-saving AeroSHARK Riblets (surface films).

Through this certificate, the implementation of sustainable technology throughout the sub-fleet, jointly developed by Lufthansa Technik and BASF, can be initiated together with Lufthansa Cargo and Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS). The next modifications are already scheduled for the beginning of January and will take place in Frankfurt and Zurich.

Thanks to its special surface structure of microscopic grooves – called Riblets – AeroSHARK reduces the resistance to friction of the aircraft skin. As a result, fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions are reduced by around one percent.

For every Boeing 777-300ER operated by SWISS, this means annual savings of around 400 tonnes of kerosene and more than 1.200 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Already, the Boeing 777F saves around 370 tonnes of fuel and 1.170 tonnes of CO₂ each year.

A first Boeing 777-300ER of the Swiss airline (HB-JNH), equipped with AeroSHARK, also completed the flight test program for the certification now received, having already started daily operations in October using a temporary “license to fly”. from the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) which was valid only for this single aircraft.

The STC issued by EASA now allows Lufthansa Technik to serially apply nature-inspired film Riblets to any Boeing 777-300ER and 777F aircraft.

Modification of the HB-JNH on AeroSHARK already started at the end of August and culminated in the so-called STC flights with EASA on 8 and 9 September. During these flights, it was necessary to provide detailed evidence that the AeroSHARK modification had not negatively impacted the operational safety and handling of the Boeing 777.

The STC flight was followed by several weeks of evaluation of collected data and other documents, such as measured values ​​from flow simulations. After recently completing its review of all submitted documents, EASA has finally granted the STC.

"AeroSHARK's approval of Boeing 777 variants is an important step in the deployment of this new technology for greater sustainability in air transport", said Soeren Stark, Executive Director of Lufthansa Technik.

“With our partner BASF, we can now support our customers to make entire sub-fleets more climate-friendly. In addition, we intend to use the new technology for other types of aircraft. We are the only MRO company in the world to offer such solutions to reduce fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions for commercial aircraft. Naturally, we are very proud of that.”

“The realization of such a project is possible only by cooperation in partnership and great confidence in each other's experience. Together, we were able to develop a bespoke solution that combines economic action and sustainability in equal measure,” explained Uta Holzenkamp, ​​President of BASF's Paints and Coatings division and, in this role, is also responsible for functional films.

“With Novaflex Sharkskin Functional Film, we are helping our customers to achieve their individual sustainability goals and thereby make aviation much friendlier to the environment.”

SWISS and Lufthansa Cargo will successively equip all twelve of their 777-300ERs and eleven 777Fs with AeroSHARK. They will thus be the first passenger and cargo airlines in the world to optimize a complete subfleet with Riblets films.

Once all Lufthansa Cargo and SWISS Boeing 777s have been modified with AeroSHARK, the Lufthansa Group will reduce its carbon footprint by more than 25 tonnes annually.

Lufthansa Technik and BASF intend to more consistently develop the AeroSHARK technology for other types of aircraft and with larger surface areas, so that in the future they can support airlines around the world in meeting their emissions targets.

In initial model calculations, Sharkskin technology at its maximum expansion stage could even prevent CO₂ emissions on the scale of up to three percent.



Street: Lufthansa Technology

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