European aerospace giant Airbus is proposing a new method of air transport that takes advantage of bird-like formations to reduce drag, save energy and fly more quickly to their destinations. The planes going in the same general direction would join together in an aerodynamic formation before splitting off to land.
Airbus' proposal for 2050 also includes robot-assisted take-off for passenger jets, (just like fighters on carrier decks) to shorten runways and get planes to cruising altitude more quickly. The company claims shorter runways will also take up less land and produce fewer carbon emissions.
The French airplane manufacturer says its "Smarter Skies plant will cut fuel consumption by 15 percent, carbon emissions by 28 million tons, as well as flight times in both the United States and Europe by an average of 13 minutes. Those savings would come in smoother take-offs and landings and the boost of flying like a flock of birds."
“We know people want to fly more in the future and our forecasts support this. We also know that they don’t want to fly at any cost,” Charles Champion, Airbus' executive vice president for engineering said in a press release.
Champion said the goal of the proposal is to provoke "disruptive" thinking about the future of air transport, and challenge engineers, air traffic managers and the flying public.