• Switzerland's news in English
Mid-air plane refuelling 'could slash costs'
Rendering of "feeder aircraft" docking with larger aircraft. Photo: cruiser-feeder.eu

Mid-air plane refuelling 'could slash costs'

AFP · 30 Mar 2015, 17:06

Published: 30 Mar 2015 17:06 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Kerosene reserves make up about a third of the weight on long distance passenger flights at take-off so reducing them and refuelling mid-air could mean huge savings, said the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), which participated in the study.
"The results of our collaborative research indicate a fuel burn reduction potential on isolated aircraft level between 11 and 23 percent for a typical 6,000 nautical miles flight with a payload of 250 passengers," the researchers said.
The Research for a Cruiser Enabled Air Transport Environment, or RECREATE, project said even the low-end of that scale "is usually considered as large in the aerospace industry."
The scientists, associated with nine different European research institutes, have for the past three years been studying the feasibility of civil air-to-air refuelling operations similar to those used for military aircraft.
The study said passenger flights could take off with less fuel and re-tank once they reach an altitude of 10,000 metres.
Refuelling planes would carry enough fuel to serve between three and five passenger aircraft at specific spots, like petrol stations in the sky, near the main airways and far from inhabited areas.
This would also reduce noise pollution near airports since planes make more noise the heavier they are at take-off, said Leonardo Mafriani, who heads the project for ZHAW.
The system would also allow for non-stop flights between destinations as far apart as Zurich and Sydney.
The researchers said they had used simulators to determine that the project is technically possible.
The RECREATE project also includes a second, and far more radical proposal: creating a sort of air-metro system, with giant aircraft circling the globe, and smaller "feeder aircraft" unloading passengers, luggage and waste midair and transporting them to destinations along the way.
The researchers acknowledge though that for the second part of the project, "neither airworthiness nor acceptance of the idea by the general public is within sight."

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Illegal immigrant dies after setting himself on fire
The victim was treated at University Hospital Zurich. Photo: University Hospital Zurich

The 45-year-old Tunisian was threatened with deportation.

Swiss government rejects call for second immigration vote
Photo: Justus Blumer/Christophe G

The Swiss government has rejected a popular initiative calling for a revote on plans to limit immigration.

Bern: companies should report salary inequality by law
File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The Swiss government wants to force small companies to examine their rates of pay every four years.

Husband in custody after Orbe body identified
File photo: Bas Leenders

The deceased is a 55-year-old woman who lived in the house with her husband.

Presented by MoneyPark
How to get a mortgage in Switzerland
Houses in Zürich. Photo: Pixabay.

Ready to buy? Here’s what you need to know as an expat about Swiss regulations, how to finance your purchase, and why you should use a broker.

Autumn in Switzerland: ten stunning Instagram photos
Photo: Swiss Tourism/Jan Geerk

Switzerland is beautiful in all seasons, but as these photos show, autumn is a special time in the alpine country.

Report: Swiss progress slows on gender equality
File photo: David Soulivet

Globally, it will take 170 years to achieve gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum.

Brothers go to court to stop suicide of sibling
File photo: Lisa Edmonds

Two men have filed a legal bid to prevent the Swiss assisted suicide association Exit from helping their older brother to kill himself.

Wawrinka snubs past form to reach Basel second round
Wawrinka beat local wildcard Marco Chiudinelli. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

US Open champion Stan Wawrinka has reached the second round in Basel after going out in the first round for the past four years.

Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben
Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: The Local
Ticino firefighters rescue cow from swimming pool
Photo: Antoni Da Campo
Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
Photo: Randy Kashka
Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Seven things you’ll miss about Switzerland if you leave
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
jobs available