Bugs on the windshield? What about bugs on airplane wings?

NASA Aeronautics Research is constantly working on research projects that will lessen the amount of fuel aircraft use, quiet the engines, and improve safety.  In the latest round of fuel efficient research projects, you will find “the bug gun.”  Researchers at Langley Research Center in Virginia are working on finding a coating that will help keep bugs from sticking to airplane wings. bug tests

Getting a wing ready in the BART wind tunnel at Langley.

Getting a wing ready in the BART wind tunnel at Langley.

The researchers first used crickets, which they bought at a pet store, but they were too big for the small wind tunnel.  So instead, they now use fruitflies–lots of them–and put them into their “bug gun” and fire them at the wing edge at 150 mph.  The goal is to find a coating that will keep bug parts from sticking to the wings.  Less stuff on the wings creates less turbulence, which means the plane uses less fuel.  While it might not seem like an accumulation of bug parts would amount to much, it does.  Airlines spend more than half of their operating budget on fuel, and with jet fuel at almost $5 a gallon, gas mileage with millions of miles makes a huge difference.

So who wants a job firing the bug gun? (Dad?  It could be your dream job.)

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~ by alanotte on June 17, 2013.

2 Responses to “Bugs on the windshield? What about bugs on airplane wings?”

  1. Maybe if they don’t stick, they won’t die! This could force the “No animals (bugs?) were harmed…” disclaimer to a much broader application. On another note, I’ll bet Bud, like others I know, would get a kick out of the “point and shoot” aspect of firing that big bug gun.

  2. Dad would be in his glory!!

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