Fly Together

The Air Force is in discussions with DAPRA on exploring types of formation flying that hold the promise of reducing significantly the fuel consumption of aircraft, Air Force Chief Scientist Werner Dahm told airmen during a visit May 1 to Air Mobility Command headquarters at Scott AFB, Ill. Dahm said some estimates show that even two aircraft flying together in a manner that reduces their drag could result in “very significant fuel savings,” with about 17 percent less combined fuel use. Adding more aircraft to a formation would produce even more synergistic increases in efficiency, he said, noting however that the overall operational impact of using larger formations would have to be thought through. He said there are methods to ensure that pilots fly at safe distances in formation while optimizing the drag reduction. Formation flying would not be used at all times, but rather as opportunities arise, Dahm said. “This doesn’t mean any radical changes to our operations,” he said. (Scott report by Roger Drinnon)