I wouldn’t have thought of bugs when thinking of how to improve commercial airplane travel, but then again I don’t work at NASA. They did think of just that and are currently testing five different coatings together with Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator 757 aircraft. The new coatings are said to improve fuel efficiency by as much as 6%, which in return could mean millions of dollars saved for airline companies as well as fewer emissions that damage our planet’s ecosystem.
Bugs will accumulate on the surface of the plane and aerodynamically-sensitive elements such as the edge of the wings are specially vulnerable. The dead bugs will cause turbulent air and drag which ultimately reduces the efficiency.
NASA is also testing a new tail fin design with a reduced size and new design. It is mainly used while landing and taking off to help the planes stability, but in the air it’s just an extra resistance. The smaller sized prototype is using a setup with 31 tiny jets along the edge of the tail that can selectively blow air over the surface and generate the same stabilizing forces as the normal 17% bigger tail fin. A smaller fin would mean reduced weight as well as wind resistance, which again will result in better fuel economy.
The two technologies will be tested on 15 and 9 separate flights respectively with Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator 757 aircraft the coming months.
Thanks to NASA for providing us with this information