Airbus recently conducted tests with A350’s proving that fuel savings of 10% could be achieved by the rear aircraft flying in the wake of an another, up to 2km behind. Further tests working in conjunction with airlines are planned in 2020.
This week Boeing have confirmed that tests undertaken in conjunction with FedEx using a 777F tailed by the companies Ecodemonstrator have shown the same results.
This opens up a world of flying possibilities on long haul routes where there are high frequencies of airlines leaving one airport for the same destinations.
It’s not uncommon for example to have 3 schedule departures from airports like LAX and London to a similar major hub. If they all worked together to fly in formation, savings could be had.
Similarly many routes across the Atlantic such as Baltimore, Boston, New York, Washington DC and Atlanta to London, Paris and Frankfurt, follow near identical trans-Atlantic paths. If they could work together to fly in chains for the bulk of the flight, savings could be significant.
If airlines agree and testing proves the viability further, in conjunction with air traffic control, substantial fuel savings and reductions in emissions could be achieved, benefitting airlines and the planet in equal measure.