Aerodynamics – The Airbus through the eyes of nature
Airplanes, they have already been developed since 1903 by the well know Wright-brothers.
They were the first who made fixed-wing power flight possible.
From that moment on the research on airplanes has never stopped.
They even reached a peak when being used for military purposes in WW1 and WW2.
Later on, human transport became more important as well the research into new efficient, comfortable airplanes.
One of the major problems of airplanes is the drag of wind. By reducing the drag of an airplane the efficiency, concerning consuming energy, could be remarkably reduced!
This is where nature comes in hand, especially biomimicry. Biomimicry tries to imitate nature for creating human applications and technologies.
The Airbus airplanes are examples where aeronautical innovations have been applied which were inspired by nature.
Sea birds have the special ability that they can sense turbulence variations in air by their beaks.
They will react on these fluctuations by adjusting the shape of their wing feathers to suppress the lift.
The Airbus A350 XWB also contains such a control system. On the nose of this aircraft probes are installed to detect turbulences. When dealing with this phenomena the airplane will deploy moveable wing surfaces. Thereby the airplane will have a more efficient flight and will reduce fuel consumption and emmission
Another well know phenomena in literature is the shark skin. Even though sharks move through another fluid like water their groovy skin concept has been examined over 30 years. Sharks have little microscopic grooves on their skin. Those groves ensure the smooth movement through water. Because of the low drag induced, it looks like the shark can slide through water.
This riblet concept is adapted to aerospace engineering and will be applied in the construction of the Airbus. Thereby the airbus will minimise the energy it expands in motion and reduce fuel consumption.
These two examples were just a glimpse of the biomimicry used on the Airbus. There are several other concepts used to optimize the new aircrafts of tomorrow. But those weren’t all related to aerodynamics. If you are interested you can find them at the link below.
For me it’s fascinating how nature behaves and how we, people, can learn from plants and animals to optmize several human applications. Even though they look quite simple they have a lot of underlying secrets!
This were just some examples of biomimicry. Can you come up with some examples which were useful for human applications?