Airbus Engineers Mimic Seabirds to Fight Airplane Turbulence

Jun 14, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Airbus is looking to a long-distance flyer in nature to help combat the effects of turbulence and wind gusts in a new airplane. The company has unveiled AlbatrossOne, which has a wing-tip design based on the body of the albatross.

According to Airbus engineer Tom Wilson, the company “drew inspiration from nature — the albatross marine bird locks its wings at the shoulder for long-distance soaring but unlocks them when wind gusts occur or maneuvering is required.” The functional model is based on the manufacturer’s A321.

Related: The 7 Best Starter Travel Credit Cards

Per a company release, the Airbus demonstrator is the first aircraft to go to inflight trials. Its wing tips, remote-controlled during the testing, can flap freely to relieve the effects of wind gusts and turbulence. Eventually, the aircraft is expected to react autonomously during inflight turbulence and lessen the load on the wing at its base, thus reducing the need for heavily reinforced wing boxes.

The net benefits should include happier passengers, fewer seatbelt signs, a safer environment for the crew to serve food and beverages and a boost in fuel efficiency.

Airbus engineers have developed a scale-model plane, AlbatrossOne, with the first inflight, flapping wing tips. (Photo courtesy of Airbus)

Initial testing of AlbatrossOne has examined the demonstrator’s stability with the wing tips locked and completely unlocked, while future tests will combine the two modes, allowing the wing tips to unlock during flight and studying how well the transition goes.

The industry at large is embracing the challenge to combat turbulence and reduce fuel burn. Earlier in 2019, rival Boeing introduced a revised Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) concept to achieve similar results. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines has devised its own iPad app for pilots, allowing them to forecast and dodge expected turbulence, while saving fuel all the while.

Boeing is also testing a folding wing tip design, this one to help the aircraft fit into smaller spaces.

Featured image courtesy of Airbus. 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.