Formation flying on horizon

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Passenger aircraft flying in formation like birds could be a feature of aviation in the second half of this century.

Formation flying could happen on high-frequency routes under a vision for flying from 2050 and beyond produced by plane-making company Airbus.

The company said that by the middle of the 21st century flights in Europe and the USA could on average be around 13 minutes shorter, saving around nine million tonnes of fuel a year.

In its latest vision for sustainable aviation, Airbus also envisages aircraft climbing more steeply on take-off to minimise noise and allow for shorter runways, as shown above; highly-intelligent aircraft able to “self-organise” and select the most efficient routes; and planes free-gliding on their landings to reduce emissions and reduce noise.