Learning from Nature

Air Mobility Command, in partnership with Boeing and DARPA, recently completed “a number of experiments” focused on flight formation, said Air Force Chief Scientist Mark Maybury. Specifically, the experiments found that if the Air Force mimicked bird formations with certain aircraft fleets—in this case C-17 transports—it could save an average of 7 percent of fuel without adding stress to the pilot, the aircraft, or changing the mission, said Maybury during a roundtable discussion at last week’s Military Reporters and Editors conference in Rosslyn, Va. “That’s a short-term way to change your behavior to actually influence your energy bill,” he said. “You might ask how many flights can we fly this way. Turns out, Air Mobility Command has looked at that and it may be as many as 50 percent, which is extraordinary.”