Fuel savings in a microscopic coating
An ultra-thin polymer layer applied to an aircraft fuselage could reduce fuel consumption by 1 to 2 percent.
The first commercial airline to test out the revolutionary nanotechnology is low-cost carrier EasyJet, but the US military has been using an earlier version of the coating as a surface protectant for 20 years.
The one-micron thick film adds only four ounces to the weight of a typical aircraft, claims manufacturer TripleO. It cross-links and bonds with the paint surface, filling in microscopic cracks and reducing the buildup of debris to reduce drag by a claimed 39 percent.
In its re-engineered form, the coating produced impressive results on a Hawker 400XP business jet. The manufacturer is also understood to be investigating the application of the coating direct to aero engines.
A spokesman for easyJet said: “We’re forensically analysing everything that can save weight and fuel.”
The airline has reduced weight onboard with lightweight carpets and plans to introduce thinner, lighter seats in the cabin. Pilots routinely taxi using one engine.
Carolyn McCall, easyJet CEO, said: “Efficiency is in our DNA. If we can find new ways of reducing the amount of fuel used by our aircraft, we can pass the benefits on to our passengers by offering them low fares and a lower carbon footprint.”