Space and Aviation

Airbus Flying Lab Helps Innovate Future Of Safer Flying

Flight Lab takes flight testing to another level through its Airbus A350. Flight Lab plays a very crucial role in advancing aircraft technologies in a futuristic way with its flight-test platforms.  Currently, the flight lab team is focusing on expanding its ecosystem that will let them perform multiple flight test platforms than now. The test is beneficial for commercial aircraft and helicopters as well. 

Regarding the Airbus A350, several modifications are being done. With multiple optical fibers being installed along the air inlet, the onboard system is capable of carrying out in-flight measurements of engine emissions as well. Surely, this Airbus A350 wouldn’t look like one we see on the runways.  The additional modifications include several sensors from Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)- an advanced detection sensor to optical ice detectors. 

As of now, the Airbus A350 is in a hangar in Colomiers, France, and getting its parts modified slowly and steadily. Due to these unusual modifications, it has become an Airbus Test Aircraft.

Image Source: Airbus

Theirry Fol, Cross-Divisional Airbus Flightlab Leader explains “You can’t test tomorrow’s aircraft technologies, on today’s in-service aircraft”. With that, he also adds- “And advanced modeling is not enough to deliver proof of concept either. We need flight testing in a real-world environment”.

In advancing aircraft technologies, Flightlab has played a very important role throughout its tenure of 10 years. One of the recent tests on future aircraft technologies was of the BLADE. In fact, the BLADE demonstrator was one of the world’s first laminar wing test on an A340 test aircraft. The technology-focused on reducing the wing friction by 50% and also 5% lesser CO2 emission.  

Thierry says “Airbus Flightlab provides an invaluable service to Airbus and the aviation industry at large: we help deliver proof of concept for tomorrow’s technologies much more quickly.”

And the rate of success with which Flightlab flies, tells the same.  One of the major contributors to the futuristic aircraft is an electric flight test demonstrator (e-FTD).  e-FTD would evaluate the performance of an electrical air conditioning system in the aircraft. This technology was later one of the main reasons to pave electrification in aircraft.

After all these successful hurdles, Airbus Flightlab wants to accelerate its market development and follows subtle cooperation with Airbus UpNext. Flight lab says that it wants to further engineer the complex technologies, which could attract potential customers from the market.

How does Airbus help to change the future aircraft technologies?

Basically, Airbus Flightlab helps the airlines to perform  flight test platforms with the necessary upgrades for future technology. Airbus calls these specially upgraded aircraft their “flying laboratories” that includes Airbus A320, A350 of their modified helicopters.  These flying laboratories are still left to be launched commercially.

While Theirry tells that Airbus Flightlab provides an invaluable service to Airbus and Aviation Industry at large, let’s have a look at major objectives, that the organization put on top of the list.

  • Reducing Carbon Emission: No matter how much technology advances, if it reduces the planet’s life, it’s not good.  Airbus Flightlab wants to save the planet as well as advance future aircraft technologies. So, we would see the products from Flighlab on future aircraft and helicopters being environment friendly.
  • Increasing the trust in air travel: Situations have turned quite unwell in terms of Aviation since the Covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully, Flightlab will consider building a better cabin sanitization technology that could help develop more efficient and smarter techniques, for both passengers and the airlines themselves.
  • Improving the pilot experience: Airbus Flightlab  plans to launch technologies that will reduce the burden upon pilots and also increase safety. For example- “Video data capturing, dissimilar sensing and other autonomous technologies” 
  • Increasing Connectivity: Airbus plans to use 4G/5G aircraft connectivity for the passengers onboard. This could also be a revolutionary step for entering the era of smart aircraft.

Not limited to only advanced future aircraft technologies, airbus Flightlab is also searching to work on introducing flight test technologies, used for Defense and Space.

“Very early on, we realized the concept of a flying laboratory to test future technologies developed at Airbus had enormous potential across the entire scope of Airbus’ business lines,” Thierry says. “We’re thrilled the team is making great progress in growing our Flightlab ecosystem.”

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