<pre><pre>Airbus & # 39; new bird-plane hybrid is both fascinating and disturbing

Airbus unveiled a new concept aircraft called "Bird of Prey", which seems fitting because this thing seems designed to brave your deepest fears. The birdlike design of the conceptual airline has several propellers, a rudder with the Union Jack and something called "feather wings" that I can't seem to think is unclear.

The body of the aircraft is bronze-colored and looks more fish-like than anything else. However, the addition to the slender-pointed wings makes it clear that the Airbus designers had birds in their brains when they came up with them.

Airbus unveiled the concept during the Royal International Air Tattoo air show in the UK. Fortunately, the French space giant has no plans to build or produce this chimeric monster, which is probably the best.

More intriguing is the propulsion system that underpins this fantastic experiment. Using technology that is currently under development, the Bird of Prey could yield a fuel saving of 30-50 percent compared to equivalent aircraft, a major leap forward in efficiency.


"One of the priorities for the entire industry is how to make aviation more sustainable – making flying cleaner, greener and quieter than ever before," Martin Aston, a senior manager at Airbus, said in a statement. "We know from our work on the A350 XWB passenger plane that nature has some of the best lessons we can learn about design through biomimicry. Who else can be inspired by such a creation? & # 39;

Hey, if designing some weird bird plane is what it takes to "inspire" the aviation industry to demolish fossil fuels in favor of more clean energy, then I'm all for it. I will attach a pair of Hawkman wings myself as if I am in it a Terry Gilliam movie. But the adoption of hybrid and battery-powered propulsion systems in aviation is taking its sweet time because airplanes are heavy things.

Flying requires an incredible amount of energy and currently batteries are too heavy and too expensive to reach lift-off. Energy density – the amount of energy stored in a given system – is the most important statistic and today's batteries do not contain enough energy to get most planes off the ground. To weigh it: jet fuel gives us 43 times more energy than a battery that is just as heavy.

Airbus & # 39; idea of ​​biomimicry, which defines it as & # 39; the design and production of materials, structures and systems inspired by nature & # 39 ;, is certainly intriguing. And Airbus is not the only one who thinks that aircraft wings, traditionally thick and sturdy, could use an upgrade.

They are a team of NASA researchers work on a new type of flexible wing that morphs when it flies. The new wing measures 14 feet or four meters wide and is made up of thousands of 3D printed reinforced polyetherimide units that fit and function in the same way as a bird's wing.