Airbus inspired by soaring eagles for new shape-shifting wing tech


Airbus is trialing new wing technologies based on how an eagle soars as part of efforts to make aircraft wings more efficient to reduce carbon emissions. 

The extra-performing wing demonstrator project was announced on September 22, 2021, as part of an Airbus two-day summit focused on sustainability in aviation. 

As the industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts are being made to demonstrate that aviation is doing its best to cut damaging CO2 emissions, with sustainable aviation fuels, electric propulsion and other technologies in focus. 

Other moves announced by Airbus during the summit include a project with airport operator VINCI for hydrogen production, storage, and supply facilities across Europe, and plans to use SAF for delivery flights of new aircraft to customers.

The wing demonstrator, using a Cessna Citation VII business jet, will take its inspiration from how an eagle adapts the shape, span and surface of its wings and feathers.  

Airbus will look at various technologies to change the shape of the wing in flight, including gust sensors, pop-up spoilers or plates that can be quickly deflected perpendicular to airflow, trailing edges (on the back of the wing) that can change the surface of the wing in flight and semi-aeroelastic hinges.

โ€œAirbusโ€™ extra-performing wing demonstrator is another example of Airbusโ€™ novel technology-oriented solutions to decarbonize the aviation sector,โ€ said Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer. โ€œWith this demonstrator, we will make significant strides in active control technology through research and applied testing of various technologies inspired by biomimicry.โ€ 

The project is part of Airbus UpNext, a unit that builds demonstrators at speed and scale to evaluate new products using breakthrough technologies. 


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