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Nikon trialling laser textured 'sharkskin' film on commercial aircraft

Nikon has equipped aircraft of Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) with a laser microfabricated 'shark skin' riblet film designed to improve their overall fuel efficiency by up to 2%.

ANA will be the first Japanese airline to trial aircraft with the riblet film, with the two partners looking to perform technical validation and test the durability of surfaces covered with the film.

In the field of aviation, various efforts are being made to realise a sustainable society, such as the reduction of CO2 emissions caused by flights and the reduction of resource waste.

Most notably, technologies that reduce the drag on the surface of the airframe, which accounts for almost half of the resistance met by the aircraft during flight, have come under the spotlight.

Such is the goal of the new riblet film, which through mimicking the streamlining properties of a shark’s skin contribute towards the drag reduction of an aircraft.

The film has been applied to two of ANA’s ‘Green Jets’ for trialling, which in addition to the film are equipped with eco-friendly livery such as non-plastic eating utensils and ‘vegan leather’ headrest covers. The jets are part of the ‘Future Promise’ ANA launched in June 2021, which the firm aims to help realise a sustainable society by implementing environmentally conscious choices.

Nikon is planning to test the durability of surfaces covered with the film and obtain related data through the operation and technical validation of the trial aircraft, so as to advance the technological development leading to practical applications.

The 'sharkskin' riblet film is laser textured with structures that reduce the air resistance of an aircraft to improve its overall fuel efficiency  (Image: Nikon)

The firm is pursuing the technological development of riblet processing by utilising its proprietary laser processing technology and going after new businesses. It aims to contribute to the realisation of a sustainable society by reducing energy loss in turbine blades and aircraft with riblet processing for improved fuel efficiency and reduction of CO2 emissions.

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Surface treatment, Aerospace

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