Flying high over its fuel savings, British Airways will expand its year-long trial of an anti-drag nanocoating to a second larger aircraft.
The airline says it will apply tripleO Performance Solution—used for a year on a BA Airbus A318—to a 777-200, hoping to save more than £100,000 (about $153,000 US) during the trial period.
|British Airways says it anticipates more than $150,000 in fuel savings from the coating trial on a 777-200.|
The Teflon-free, silicone-free coating can also be used in marine applications and will be tested on wind farms, the manufacturer reports.
British Airways said in a release that the Airbus A318 coated with tripleO used less fuel than another Airbus A318 without the coating. Both planes flew the London City to New York route exclusively during the one-year trial period.
“We have been exploring a number of initiatives to improve fuel efficiency,” said Garry Copeland, British Airways’ director of engineering. “TripleO not only delivers a significant saving; it also improves aircraft appearance. We look forward to assessing its impact on a larger aircraft.”
TripleO brand manager Ross Thornley said his company was “delighted to see the results from more live tests. To prove such a substantial return on investment for our clients, especially British Airways, is the result of many years of hard work.”
“Our extensive research and development in our product coating, application methods and the wind tunnel tests over the last four years is now paying dividends for all our clients.”
TripleO is a nanotech-tweaked formulation of a high-performance cleaning and protective paint sealant developed for U.S. military and government use 20 years ago, reports the UK-based manufacturer, also called tripleO (formerly, ooops! and Triple Ops).
In 2007, tripleO re-engineered the coating with nanotechnology and began testing it in automotive applications and on light aircraft and small vessels. Larger trials on heavier craft followed. A year ago, EasyJet, the UK’s largest airline, also began trials of the coating.
How it Works
TripleO is a polymer that cross-links and bonds with the surface materials—such as paintwork, bare metal, leading edges and even rivets—to which it is being applied.
According to the manufacturer, the coating creates a perfectly smooth finish, forming an easy-to-clean barrier that prevents the build-up and ingress of dirt, ice, corrosion, seawater and other contaminants. The ultra-thin finish adds only about four ounces to the weight of an aircraft, the manufacturer says.
Application is a three-step process. The surface is cleaned, then polarized with an oxalic acid solution that positively charges the surface, allowing the emulsion to crosslink and bond to the surface. The third step is application of the transparent, anti-static coating, which contains nanoparticles that fill surface pores and gaps with a resin.
The coating lasts about two years, the manufacturer says.