‘Shark’s skin’ coming to Lufthansa Cargo’s B777F fleet

Lufthansa cargo shark
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Lufthansa Technik and BASF are rolling out AeroSHARK, a new innovative surface technology that lowers the frictional resistance of an aircraft in the air which lowers fuel consumption.

From 2022, Lufthansa Cargo will equip all of its B777 freighters with AeroSHARK.

Noting that the aviation industry has been intensively researching ways to reduce aerodynamic drag for many years, the two partners say the new product is modelled after nature.

AeroSHARK consists of a surface film that mimics the fine structure of a shark’s skin and will make Lufthansa Cargo’s fleet more economical and reduce emissions.

The surface structure consisting of ‘riblets’ measuring around 50 micrometers imitates the properties of sharkskin and therefore optimises the aerodynamics on flow-related parts of the aircraft.

For Lufthansa Cargo’s B777F freighters, Lufthansa Technik estimates a drag reduction of more than one per cent. For the entire fleet of ten aircraft, this translates to annual savings of around 3,700 tonnes of kerosene and just under 11,700 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This is the equivalent of 48 individual freight flights from Frankfurt to Shanghai.

“Responsibility for the environment and society is a key strategic topic for us,” says Christina Foerster, member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa with responsibility for sustainability.

“We have always played a leading role in introducing environmentally friendly technologies. The new sharkskin technology for aircraft shows what strong and highly innovative partners can achieve collectively for the environment. This will help us to achieve our goal of climate neutrality by 2050,” Foerster adds.

“The aviation industry is facing similar challenges to the chemical industry: Ongoing progress must be made with climate protection despite high energy requirements,” says Markus Kamieth, member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF.

“By collaborating closely and successfully combining our know-how in surface design and aerodynamics, we have now succeeded in taking a major step forward. This is an excellent example of sustainability in practice, achieved through partnership-based collaboration and innovative technologies.”

Dorothea von Boxberg, chief executive officer of Lufthansa Cargo adds: “We are proud that we will now be able to operate our entire freighter fleet even more efficiently in the future thanks to sharkskin technology and reduce the carbon footprint of our modern fleet further. The investments we have made in rolling out AeroSHARK at Lufthansa Cargo consciously reaffirm our commitment to the United Nation’s sustainable development goal on climate action.

In its cooperation with BASF, Lufthansa Technik is responsible for the material specification, approval by the aviation authorities and performance of aircraft modifications carried out as part of regular maintenance layovers.

Backed by decades of experience as an approved aviation design organization, the company will obtain a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the B777F from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is required for operation.

“We have always used our wealth of expertise as a global market leader in technical aircraft services to also contribute to reducing the ecological footprint of our industry,” explains Johannes Bussmann, chief executive officer of Lufthansa Technik.

“In doing so, we can leverage significant savings potential from all aircraft generations. I am therefore very proud that we will soon be able to transfer the positive findings of the validation phase into the series application with Lufthansa Cargo. The extremely constructive collaboration with BASF is also the best example of cross-sector cooperation in the interest of the sustainability of the aviation industry.”

The Coatings division of BASF is developing innovative, functional films in its Beyond Paint Solutions unit – such as the riblet surfaces, for example. A solution was implemented together with Lufthansa Technik which fulfills the strict requirements of the aviation industry.

Exterior surfaces used in aviation are exposed to factors such as strong UV radiation as well as temperature and pressure fluctuations at high altitudes, among others. As a result BASF has focused its development on achieving extreme durability and weather resistance. The key criteria for use in aviation operation include simple application and handling as well as ease-of-repair, for which a custom concept has been developed.

“As an expert in surfaces, we implement bespoke solutions for our customers. The innovative sharkskin technology allows us to support Lufthansa in achieving its sustainability goals and in making the aviation industry a little more environmentally friendly,” says Dirk Bremm, head of BASF’s Coatings division and also responsible for functional films in this role.


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