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"Vortex Surfing" being tested by the USAF to reduce fuel consumption

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posted on Aug, 17 2013 @ 10:21 AM
This is a pretty cool idea. Testing of C-17 aircraft occured last month to test whether or not an aircraft could fly in another aircraft's vortex, and maintain that position with the autopilot. The rear aircraft had a 10% fuel savings over the lead aircraft. For example, a KC-135 burns about 10,000 pounds an hour, so 1,000 pounds of fuel per hour savings add up quick.

A little snippet:

It's an aerial maneuver known as "vortex surfing" where cargo planes in a V formation ride the cyclone of upward pressure that spills off the wings of another plane flying roughly 3,000 feet in front. Special software developed for the large C-17 Globemaster III, allows the trailing plane to stay in the sweet spot of an upward draft, providing significant fuel savings.

The Air Force successfully tested the concept last month. Now scientists at the unit that manages cargo and tanker planes must find the money to complete this efficiency project at a time of ever-shrinking budgets.

"We've seen birds fly in 'V' formations. They do that for a good reason," says Donald Erbschloe, chief scientist at Air Mobility Command, based at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. The Air Force consumes 75 percent of all of the federal government's aviation fuel. Air Mobility Command alone requires 25 percent.

A fuel efficiency office was already looking at the low-hanging fruit to use these resources more efficiently, says Erbschloe, including removing weight from the aircraft, washing the engines and changing the plane's center of cargo.

They basically took the flying V that ducks and other birds do to ride the vortex and applied it to military jets. Pretty interesting stuff...

edit on 17-8-2013 by boomer135 because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 17 2013 @ 10:39 AM
Geese have been doing it for thousands of years.
Myth Busters did it last year.
Nice that the military finally decided to test it themselves.
It will add up to huge savings annually.

posted on Aug, 17 2013 @ 02:53 PM
Sod geese, look into how Concorde produced lift

posted on Aug, 17 2013 @ 03:53 PM
reply to post by RichardPrice

I think in many ways Concorde's achievements are underestimated by many today. In many ways it is even more impressive that aircraft like the the SR-71.

For example, how impressive would the SR-71 have been if it had operated daily carrying 100 passengers in comfort with their luggage,instead of occasionally with two blokes in spacesuits?

Obviously SR-71 IS very special and flew faster than Concorde, but I don't think people (other than those working for Tupolev around the same time) realise just how hard it was to create a practical mach 2 commercial aircraft.

posted on Aug, 18 2013 @ 11:18 AM
reply to post by waynos

What's going to be really impressive is when they come out with a quiet boom aircraft. That will be a true technological marvel for our times.

posted on Aug, 18 2013 @ 03:46 PM
I love things like this, it shows just how much we can learn from nature...

Do you think commerical airlines will cotton on to the money saving potential and there'll end up being formations of Boeings & Airbuses zooming across the sky?? It'd be an incredible sight!!

posted on Aug, 18 2013 @ 04:42 PM
reply to post by Florasaurus

The airlines are going to start going a different route for now. The new 787 will be the first commercial to use boundary layer control. We'll eventually start to see more using it, but for now that will be the only one.

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