Swiss International installs AeroSHARK drag reduction

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) has completed a world first after installing AeroSHARK drag reduction technology to its 12-strong Boeing 777-300ER fleet.

Developed in conjunction with coatings manufacturer BASF and Lufthansa Technik, the innovative technology replicates the hydrodynamic properties of shark skin to reduce air resistance, which cuts fuel consumption and lowers CO2 emissions.

SWISS is adding AeroSHARK drag-reduction technology to its fleet of Boeing 777s
SWISS is adding AeroSHARK drag-reduction technology to its fleet of Boeing 777s SWISS

The project began in October 2022 and approximately 2,500 panels were applied to the engine nacelles and fuselage of each aircraft. The ‘riblets’ measure 0.05mm in height, are aligned towards the airflow direction and generate a 1% gain in air resistance reduction. Across the fleet, fuel consumption is expected to fall by 4,800 tonnes annually. Meanwhile, CO2 emissions are anticipated to be reduced by 15,000 tonnes over the same period.

Claus Bauer, SWISS head of technical fleet management, said: “We’re proud to be the first airline to have equipped an entire aircraft fleet with this innovative technology. Each aircraft takes about a week to have [the] material applied.”

SWISS plans to apply the product to different aircraft types and market the technology to other airlines. SWISS CEO, and soon to be Lufthansa Group COO, Dieter Vranckx, said: “Our adoption of AeroSHARK is an excellent example of how we can use innovative technologies to make air travel sustainable.” AeroSHARK manager Jens-Uwe Mueller added: “Our riblet technology can be applied to any aircraft with a similar effect.”

Lufthansa Cargo is also in the process of rolling out the technology across its fleet of ten Boeing 777Fs.