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Author Topic: "Have airliners fly like geese"  (Read 4561 times)
MathFox
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« on: October 14, 2008, 06:18:41 AM »

The KLM CEO has suggested that airliners should start flying in the V-formations we know from migrating birds. Doing so would reduce fuel consumption for the planes involved. More details (in Dutch) http://www.luchtvaartnieuws.nl/news/?id=28133.

I see an increase in en-route passenger capacity, as the formation can be controlled as a single big plane. (It doesn't help the lack of concrete on the ground, which is currently limiting growth.) I have some questions about flight safety issues: can such formations be set up and broken up safely? What are the additional risks of flying so close to other planes, especially when one unexpectedly encounters turbulence or wind shear?
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NY Z Pilot
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« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2008, 09:30:21 AM »

..yah that will never happen.
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aevins
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« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2008, 01:42:54 PM »

Is that a joke?
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tyketto
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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2008, 02:10:16 PM »

Is that a joke?

I was thinking that, but then (stupidly?) really started to think about it. It could be possible, but very slim to none. I remember reading somewhere that a given airway can be approx. 4nm (or was it SM?) wide, so in-trail spacing notwithstanding, it theoretically could be possible. I wouldn't do it...

BL.
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KSYR-pjr
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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2008, 02:41:22 PM »

"Have airliners fly like geese"

But doesn't this mean that airlines could only fly north/south routes?

Heck, while we are all dreaming here perhaps we could get airlines to open their bathroom sewers to the open sky...  Now we are really talking "flying like geese."
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MathFox
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The Flying Fox


« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2008, 03:55:07 PM »

Is that a joke?
I do think it is a very wild (but not impossible) idea that's been said out loud in public. I do have the feeling that it will take at least a decade or so to realise scheduled formation flights.
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w0x0f
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« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2008, 05:06:48 PM »

Everyone will be happy until the first midair collision.  This is perhaps the most ridiculous thing I've heard from an industry insider who doesn't work for the FAA.   cheesy

w0x0f
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RV1
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« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2008, 09:57:45 PM »

I'm not sure how much wake turbulence a goose puts out, but some of those airplanes...

What happens if some of the 'geese' want to turn or land?

Is this seasonal, can they only fly north in the spring and south in the fall?

If you have that many 'geese' flying to the same airport, why don't they just take a bigger plane(goose)!
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tyketto
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« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2008, 01:35:42 AM »

I'm not sure how much wake turbulence a goose puts out, but some of those airplanes...

What happens if some of the 'geese' want to turn or land?

Is this seasonal, can they only fly north in the spring and south in the fall?

If you have that many 'geese' flying to the same airport, why don't they just take a bigger plane(goose)!

My guess is that these 'geese' would be flying in this 'V' formation in the lateral sense, or with at least 5 - 10 MIT spacing, across the width of a given airway and each formation have 5 - 10 MIT spacing between them and the next formation (this could only be done enroute). If one wants to turn or land, they drop out of the formation at their given intersection while the rest of the 'geese' continue flying. In the end, it would just breed more questions and develop even more of an issue than what we already have now..

BL.
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chefnoel
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2008, 08:49:10 AM »

Here's a translation from the Dutch article
"Flying like geese do, not like drunken ducks, would really help lowering CO2 emission from airplanes. That's what KLM executive PH stated when the IATA-environmental-stand at Schiphol was launched on Tuesday. "everything we can learn from the animals, should be taken seriously", H said.
 
It would help if planes would fly in V shaped formations like geese. By using each other's slipstream, they could save on fuel. Also if planes would not have to fly in strange curves because they pass over a different country. Therefor we need one European airspace, and that's something the airlines cannot achieve. Governments will have to do that.
 
"Why do we have a Schengen treaty, if it stops at 1 meter above the ground?", H. was wondering. "In 1960 we started Eurocontrol in order to get one European airspace"
But reality still is today that there still are 38 air controll centers in Europe. "If we could fly from Amsterdam to Nice in a straight line, the journey would be 10% shorter, we would save 600.000 kilo on fuel, and 1.8 million kilo on CO2.
 
In the afternoon the airlines called upon the European governments to do whatever they can, because the airlines feel that they do all they can already. The need for action is there, more than ever, in times of high fuel prices, economical crisis and social pressure to put higher taxes on air traveling.
 
The airline sector of course condamned the high taxes (esp. the dutch vliegtaks -flying taxes) that governmennts put on the sector. HG, president of Barin, the organisation for Dutch airline tarnspotation, promised they would go to surpreme court against 'vliegtaks'.
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keith
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2008, 10:37:03 AM »

I am not sure of the aerodynamics involved, but is there an actual reduction in drag to be realized, and can it be done without serious turbulence?

Secondly, is it just me, or will this scheme completely break down the moment the formation enters a cloud?
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MathFox
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« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2008, 05:33:56 PM »

I am not sure of the aerodynamics involved, but is there an actual reduction in drag to be realized, and can it be done without serious turbulence?
The trick is that you fly in the upward stream of the wing tip vortex of the plane in front of you; taking advantage of the turbulence. Due to the additional lift you can lower your pitch a bit and have less induced drag.
A formation will cause more wake than a single plane, but each plane absorbs a bit of the vortex energy of the plane in front of it. Spacing will be bigger, but less than proportional to the number of planes.

Quote
Secondly, is it just me, or will this scheme completely break down the moment the formation enters a cloud?
How many clouds are there at FL300-FL350? You want to avoid the thicker clouds at those altitudes anyway! Maybe a future generation of planes will have (active) wing-tip Radar and a "formation flight" mode in the autopilot.
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Unbeliever
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« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2008, 06:29:13 PM »

I am not sure of the aerodynamics involved, but is there an actual reduction in drag to be realized, and can it be done without serious turbulence?


The US Air Force did a study on flying in the "up" part of the wake turbulence and found that while it did give a "worth doing it" amount of fuel savings, the skill level needed for such precise flying and the concentration needed made it impractical. Pilots were exhausted after only a short time.

--Carlos V.
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