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Forschungsroboter im ZAL © Michael Lindner

Sharks provide inspiration for aviation researchers

"FAMOS"-Project: New technology developed in ZAL with industry and science

Airbus and Lufthansa Technik have successfully completed a joint research assignment in the ZAL TechCenter, a press release said Monday. The FAMOS project brought aviation companies together to develop a system for using robotic arms to coat airliner wings with a “sharkskin” texture. The surface, modelled on nature, reduces airflow resistance, thereby lowering fuel consumption. The “riblet” structure can reduce an aircraft’s fuel consumption by around 1 per cent. For Lufthansa’s fleet alone, this would result in a saving of EUR 55 million worth of kerosene and more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

Hamburg’s competitiveness as a centre of aviation

Roland Gerhards, CEO of ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research, noted: “The fact that such respected aviation companies as Airbus and Lufthansa Technik are conducting joint research here on very specific issues for the future shows the acceptance that ZAL has found and underlines Hamburg’s global competitiveness.”

Both Airbus and Lufthansa Technik have integrated the technology in their companies – Airbus in the aircraft manufacturing process, and Lufthansa Technik in maintenance. The co-operation, which has Bremer Werk für Montagesysteme as an additional partner, has received funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

Next step – industrialization of technology.

The FAMOS project has researched a solution to paint and coat large areas such as wings using a robotic arm rendering the work cost-efficient without lowering quality. The project that developed the guidance system has been funded as part of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s fifth Aeronautical Research Programme (LuFo V) since 2014. The next step involves tackling the industrialization of technology.

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