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AeroSHARK – how we further reduce our flights’ carbon emissions with a new technology

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We are to become the first passenger airline in the world to take advantage of the new AeroSHARK aircraft skin technology to further reduce the carbon dioxide emissions and the fuel consumption of our flight operations.

All twelve of our Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will successively have the innovative riblet film, which has been co-developed by Lufthansa Technik and chemicals and coatings manufacturer BASF, applied to their fuselage and engine nacelles. The resulting significant reduction in aerodynamic drag will make the our 77W fleet more than one per cent more fuel-efficient, and this in turn will substantially further reduce our carbon dioxide emissions.

The AeroSHARK film features millions of ‘riblets’ – small protrusions just 50 micrometres high – which replicate the highly hydrodynamic skin of sharks, and thus reduces an aircraft’s aerodynamic drag wherever it is applied.

Annual CO2 emission savings of up to 15,200 tonnes

By applying a total of 950 square metres of AeroSHARK riblet film to the fuselage and engine nacelle surfaces of a Boeing 777, fuel savings of some 1.1 per cent can be achieved. This will reduce our annual fuel consumption by over 4,800 tonnes and the total annual carbon dioxide emissions of our Boeing 777 fleet by up to 15,200 tonnes – the amount emitted respectively by some 87 long-haul flights from Zurich to Mumbai.

“Reducing its environmental footprint is one of the greatest challenges ahead for the aviation sector, and being carbon-neutral in our flying by 2050 is a key SWISS strategic objective,” says our CEO Dieter Vranckx. “We put a major emphasis at SWISS on actively promoting and making targeted investments in new technologies. And we’re delighted that, in becoming the world’s first passenger airline to use the innovative AeroSHARK technology, as we’ll be doing with our Boeing 777 fleet, we’ll now be making a further substantial contribution to ensuring more sustainable travel.”

We will successively install the new AeroSHARK riblet film on our Boeing 777 fleet from mid-2022 onwards. The work will be performed when each aircraft’s downtimes permit.

Involvement in AeroSHARK’s development, too

We have also supported Lufthansa Technik and BASF in their development of the AeroSHARK film for the Boeing 777. Back in summer 2021, the aerodynamic performance of a Boeing 777 wing was precisely monitored throughout a scheduled SWISS Zurich-San Francisco flight. The data collected have enabled Lufthansa Technik to devise high-precision 3D airflow simulation models which will be used in the near future to develop the AeroSHARK riblet film for additional application to the Boeing 777’s wings, to tap further fuel and emission savings potential.

Carbon-neutral by 2050

The adoption of the new AeroSHARK technology is a key initiative in our broader endeavours to minimize our carbon dioxide emissions. It also underlines our commitment to promoting the use of innovative technologies. We have set ourselves the objectives of halving our net CO2 emissions from our 2019 levels by 2030 and of making our business and operations carbon-neutral by 2050.