The aircraft industry is facing issues with the increase of drag directly impacting the fuel consumption of the fleet. Achieving natural laminar flow requires high surface quality. Tiny air flow disturbances at the surface can indeed cause an early transition from laminar to turbulent flow. The accumulation of insect debris on the leading edge of laminar wings has been recognized as one of the most significant operational concerns associated with laminar flow.

  The main objective of STELLAR is to develop efficient and durable anticontamination coating and cleaning solutions designed following a deep understanding of the insect residues properties. 

Hence, STELLAR project seeks to gain insight on the understanding of the biochemical transformation of hemolymph during flight phases and the consequent physico-chemical modification of the surface. 

All pictures : ©AIRBUS

In order to meet these goals, the project consortium gathers cutting edge multidisciplinary knowledge and the needed facilities to provide a deep understanding of the contamination issues. This approach has the potential to significantly enhance the current understanding of the key issues and highlight which surface characteristics have the greatest influence on insect residue adhesion. From this approach, new coating and cleaning solutions will be developed. 

The knowledge acquired and the solutions developed will be evaluated through large scale tests : tests in wind tunnel which allow simulating extreme conditions occurring during flights, on a test aircraft (short flight tests) equipped with a cameras and sensors (T°, RH, pressure) to monitor all the parameters responsible of real condition contamination and implementation on commercial aircraft to evaluate the coating efficiency and durability and validate the newly developed solutions.

As a summary, the project STELLAR aims at producing sustainable solutions to :
  • reduce drag on aircrafts 
  • enable laminar flow over time with direct impact on fuel consumption 
  • contributes to aviation’s ecological footprint reduction, targeting a 50% reduction of wing friction and up to 5% lower CO2 emission.

A general presentation of the project is downloadable through this LINK.

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