The first cargo aircraft in the world to be modified with the Lufthansa Technik and BASF ‘AeroSHARK’ fuel-saving surface technology has entered scheduled service.
Lufthansa Cargo has introduced the technology to the air freight industry on a Boeing 777F aircraft, with the first scheduled service taking off from Frankfurt today (3 February) to Bengaluru, India, from where it will subsequently fly on to Chengdu in China.
The AeroSHARK modification was carried out in mid-January as part of a scheduled maintenance layover for the freighter and was completed well before its end, according to Lufthansa Technik. Now that maintenance has also been completed, the aircraft has returned to active service.
SWISS has been using the AeroSHARK technology on passenger services since October on a 777-300ER.
Lufthansa Technik and BASF said AeroSHARK enabled both types of Boeing 777 to achieve fuel and emissions savings in the order of one per cent.
AeroSHARK is a surface film that mimics the microscopic structure of shark skin. It consists of ribs around 50 micrometers in size – the so-called riblets. If the airflow on the fuselage and engine nacelles of the Boeing 777F is optimised in this way, significant fuel savings can be achieved, Lufthansa Technik said. For Lufthansa Cargo’s aircraft, fuel savings of about one per cent are estimated. Extrapolated to Lufthansa Cargo’s entire 777 fleet, this would result in annual savings of more than 4,000 metric tons of kerosene and nearly 13,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to approximately 53 one-way/direct cargo flights from Frankfurt to Shanghai.
“We are proud to be able to operate our entire freighter fleet even more efficiently in the future thanks to sharkskin technology and to further reduce the carbon footprint of our modern fleet,” said Lufthansa Cargo’s chairwoman of the executive board and CEO Dorothea von Boxberg.
“Our investments for the introduction of AeroSHARK bring us closer to our goal of being 100 per cent CO2 neutral in the air by 2050; on the ground, we would like to achieve this goal as early as 2030.”
The AeroSHARK modification will now be gradually rolled out on Lufthansa Cargo’s 11-strong 777 freighter fleet, von Boxberg said.
In December 2022, Lufthansa Technik obtained a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for two types of Boeing 777, paving the way for the serial application of AeroSHARK to the 777 fleets of the launch customers, which has now begun.
Lufthansa Technik and BASF said they also intended to systematically develop AeroSHARK for additional aircraft types and larger surface areas. In initial model calculations, they said the sharkskin technology in its maximum expansion stage could avoid CO2 emissions in the order of up to three per cent.