airberlin, the second largest German airline after Lufthansa, developed a new software tool that allows aircraft technicians to inspect the body of the aircraft for surface imperfections that may impede smooth air flow and increase fuel burn.
Even minor imperfections – such as small blemishes, rough paintwork or even a one millimeter gap between the landing gear doors – on an aircraft’s external surface affects its aerodynamics and leads to greater air resistance, which leads to higher fuel consumption.
For example, the additional fuel burned in a year due to the loss of paint from an area of only 150 by 50 cm (about 5 feet by 1.5 feet) on an aircraft body is sufficient for a 1000 km flight.
The software enables measurement and classification of any imperfections and calculates additional fuel consumption due to the increased air resistance.
It then generates a list of priorities for the next scheduled maintenance of each individual aircraft.
airberlin is introducing the new software tool for periodically inspecting its entire aircraft fleet.