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Model for aircraft construction: the skin of the shark

On October 18th, the day of the final of the Redbull Air Race Championship 2015, the "godfather" of aerobatics, Peter Besenyei, announced his resignation. Since last season he has been working with Bionic Surface Technologies on optimizing his aircraft.

The company was founded by Peter Leitl and Andreas Flangeger, who came across a method of maximizing the speed of aircraft during their research in the racing team at the Technical University in Graz.

They used the shark as a model. The fact that the animals can move so quickly under water is due to the riblet effect: the surface of the shark skin in the micro to nanometer range appears under the microscope as an arrangement of small ribs. This greatly reduces the frictional resistance.

In motorsport, whether in the air, in the water or on land, it is all about fractions of a second that decide victory. With the use of the riblet effect through adhesive shark skin films, the efficiency of aircraft can be increased by up to four percent without changing the performance itself.

The lower air resistance is not only used in motorsport. This technology is also used in the manufacture of wind turbines. The nano-structured surface makes them quieter, lighter, cheaper and more efficient to buy. The CEO Andreas Flangeger sees a very promising future for the Shark-Skin-foils: "In theory we can already use the riblet effect for many areas besides motorsport. This concerns the commercial aviation and also the transport industry as well as industrially used pumps and pipes. "