Boeing 747-8, Lufthansa. Image credit: Lufthansa.

The German airline company Lufthansa will paint two of its Airbus A340-300 with a special paint developed to reduce drag.

Painting the planes is part of an ongoing research trial. The painted structure mimics that of sharkskin when dried.

The aim is to reduce drag and make aircraft glide more efficiently through the air. This will hopefully lead to both lower fuel consumption, costs and make airplanes more environmentally friendly.

Real life sharks’ skin is covered in tiny riblets that reduce turbulent vortices and thereby the drag they cause by diminishing surface resistance, in both water and air.

Lufthansa’s first goal is to reduce fuel with about one percent. It might not sound as much, but in the long run and for a whole fleet of planes this implies an enormous amount of fuel.

The sharkskin property that makes it able to reduce friction on both land and in the water, is something that has actually been known by scientists for 30 years. And has already been implemented to reduce resistance for swimsuits.

Lufthansa tests the effects of shark skin in flight