Austrian company Turbulence Solutions claims to have developed and flight-tested a groundbreaking system designed to detect and neutralize air turbulence, offering significant benefits for both passenger comfort and fuel efficiency. The system, set to launch in 2024, could reduce the forces felt by passengers during turbulence by up to 80% and decrease fuel burn by as much as 10%.
The motivation behind this innovation stems from the escalating impact of climate change, which has led to a notable increase in turbulence, up to 55% on certain popular flight routes. With temperatures rising and wind speeds escalating, turbulence is anticipated to worsen, making it crucial for the aviation industry to find effective solutions.
Turbulence Solutions’ system operates akin to an active noise cancellation system found in headphones. It uses advanced technology to predict turbulence just before it occurs, employing 5-hole differential air pressure probes strategically placed to provide accurate readings. These probes offer vital data for the system to make rapid adjustments to the aircraft’s control surfaces, generating forces that counteract the impending turbulence.
During tests, the company utilized a combination of lightweight rails and pressure sensors to simulate the real-world conditions of turbulence. The system demonstrated its capability to predict vertical accelerations with an accuracy of nearly 62% during its initial test flight. In real-time scenarios, the system provides a crucial tenth of a second warning before turbulence hits, allowing the flight control system to respond by adjusting lift surfaces to counteract the effects of turbulence.
Turbulence Solutions claims that their system can reduce the impact of turbulence in the cabin by approximately 80%. In addition to enhancing passenger comfort, the company representative stated in an interview with Interesting Engineering that the system enables noteworthy fuel savings of up to 10%. This is achieved by eliminating the need for aircraft to climb, dive, or alter routes to avoid turbulence.
The company aims to make the system commercially available for light aircraft in 2024 and is exploring possibilities for electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) air taxis by 2026. The long-term vision is to implement the system in commercial airliners by 2030.
The potential success of Turbulence Solutions’ technology could revolutionize the aviation industry, making air travel smoother, more comfortable, and environmentally friendly, ultimately benefiting both passengers and the industry as a whole.