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The research team, which includes scientists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), have tackled the “flutter problem”: Although wings with a wide wingspan and low weight are energy-efficient, in flight, the wing vibrations continuously increase, leading to material fatigue. The European project FLEXOP (Flutter-Free FLight Envelope eXpansion for ecOnomical Performance improvement) sought to solve this conflict of interest. The result is two new wing variants: aeroelastic wings made of carbon fibers and flutter wings made of fiberglass. The former have already been tested at the airfield in Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich – initially with a flight demonstrator, for safety reasons. The results of the project are now to be transferred to the design of transport and passenger aircraft.

Meanwhile, Airbus has taken inspiration from nature to make flying more environmentally friendly. Its fello’fly project aims to demonstrate that the fuel consumption of an aircraft can be reduced by up to 10% if it flies behind another aircraft – it is this technique that helps migratory birds conserve their energy. Airbus is now working on a solution to keep the follower aircraft safely positioned in the updraft of the aircraft it is following.