Cathay Pacific has taken delivery of an Airbus A340-300 with 30% of its skin covered with so-called "shark-skin foils" or riblets. The in-service test follows experiments carried out by Airbus, in conjunction with US manufacturer 3M, using an A320 partially covered with the drag-reducing plastic film. "Performance results have been as expected, but in any trial you discover problems, and the shark-skin foils of that time began to turn yellow and were difficult to remove," says Klaus Schneider, Airbus deputy department manager, structures. The A340 will be used to test the latest film, developed for improved durability. Lufthansa has shelved plans to participate because of the seven days needed to apply the film to one of its A340s. "It will not return so much money for the risk we will take," says Dr Jürgen Thorbeck, senior project manager, aircraft evaluation and concepts.

Source: Flight International