The aviation industry is growing - and growing rapidly. This naturally poses a number of challenges for the industry. For one thing, passenger aircraft have to be manufactured at rates of sometimes more than 70 deliveries per month. For this reason, intensive research is now being carried out to optimize series production – for example, with the development of new resins that cure faster.
On the other hand, the aviation industry must strive to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in order to achieve climate targets. Lufthansa Technik and BASF achieved a breakthrough in a joint project last year: Thanks to the new surface film "AeroSHARK," which is modeled on the fine structure of shark skin, an aircraft's frictional resistance in the air is to be reduced, thereby also lowering fuel consumption. A friction reduction of more than one percent is expected for use on ten Boeing 777F aircraft operated by Lufthansa Cargo. What sounds little corresponds to an annual saving of almost 11,700 tons of CO2.
3D printing also offers great potential. It can be used to produce aircraft components from a single casting, eliminating fasteners. Since a solid construction method can be replaced by a ribbed construction method, an aircraft with parts from the 3D printer becomes much lighter.
But there are already successes to report today, too: German airlines have been able to reduce their fuel consumption per passenger per 100 kilometers by a good 43 percent since 1990. Whereas this figure was 6.3 liters in 1990, in 2019 it averaged just 3.56 liters per passenger. This success is due in no small part to plastics.