Metropolregion Hamburg

FAMOS: Sharks inspiration for aviation researchers at ZAL

08.06.2017Companies and Organisations

New technology jointly developed by Lufthansa Technik and Airbus teams in Hamburg's ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research

One year after opening, Hamburg's ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research is running at full throttle. And now the industry's heavyweights, Airbus and Lufthansa Technik, have successfully completed a joint research assignment in the new 26,000m² (280,000 ft²) ZAL TechCenter. In the "FAMOS" project, the aviation companies worked together to develop a system for using robotic arms to coat airliner wings with a "sharkskin" texture. The surface, modelled on nature, reduces airflow resistance, thereby lowering fuel consumption. Another great benefit of this research cooperation in Hamburg: Both of these major players could later integrate the technology developed in the ZAL TechCenter in their companies - Airbus in the aircraft manufacturing process, and Lufthansa Technik in maintenance. The cooperation, which has Bremer Werk für Montagesysteme (bwm) as additional partner, has also received funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

The aviation industry has been investigating surfaces that reduce friction and drag for several years. The benefits of a so-called "riblet" structure, modelled on the skin texture of sharks, are obvious: the improved surface can reduce the fuel consumption of an airliner by around one percent. For Lufthansa's fleet alone, this would result in a saving of 55 million euros worth of kerosene and more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

Video: FAMOS, an automated guidance system for the application of a riblet structure

Until now, the application of the "sharkskin" structure to larger surfaces such as wings has proven difficult. Since 2014, the "FAMOS" project has researched on a solution so that even large areas such as wings can be painted and coated using a robotic arm; the automation means that the work is cost-efficient without sacrificing quality. The large hangar space in the ZAL TechCenter meant that, for the first time, the project partners Lufthansa Technik, Airbus and bwm had the environment they needed to transfer their findings from theory into practice.

With the "FAMOS" method, the wing surface is embossed with a special paint, developed by Airbus and suppliers, in the "sharkskin" structure, and then cured with UV light. Cleaning the surface beforehand and removing old paint is also possible without difficulty. "FAMOS" is an acronym for a German product name meaning "Guidance System for Automated Application of Multifunctional Surface Structures".

"The fact that such respected aviation companies as Airbus and Lufthansa Technik are conducting joint research here on very specific issues for the future shows the acceptance that ZAL has found and underlines Hamburg's global competitiveness," says Roland Gerhards, CEO of ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research.

The project that developed the guidance system has been funded as part of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy's fifth Aeronautical Research Programme (LuFo V) since 2014. Now that the project has come to a successful conclusion, including the construction of a functional demonstrator in the ZAL TechCenter, the next step is to tackle the industrialization of the technology.

Weitere Meldungen zum Thema