The hybrid-electric turbo propeller plane takes design cues from eagles and falcons, featuring individually controlled feathers on the wings and tail for precision flight control. Its body also includes a blended wing to fuselage joint that mimics the sweeping aerodynamic arch of predatory birds. Unveiled at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, the aircraft’s primary goal is to encourage young people into aerospace but also marks the 50th anniversary of Airbus.
“Bird of Prey is designed to be an inspiration to young people and create a ‘wow’ factor that will help them consider an exciting career in the UK’s crucially-important aerospace sector,” said Martin Aston, senior manager at Airbus.
“One of the priorities for the entire industry is how to make aviation more sustainable – making flying cleaner, greener and quieter than ever before. We know from our work on the Airbus A350 passenger jet that biomimicry, literally learning from the genetics of animals, that nature has some of the best lessons we can learn about design.”
Although the design is not meant to represent an actual aircraft concept, it is grounded in reality and based on either existing or emerging aerospace technologies. The Bird of Prey initiative is backed by the GREAT Britain campaign, Royal Aeronautical Society, Air League, Institution of Engineering and Technology and Aerospace Technology Institute.
“Birds in flight have captured the imagination for centuries,” said Sir Brian Burridge, chief executive of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
“The very first engineers looked to nature to work out how to emulate flight, and now the Airbus Bird of Prey concept will play an important role in inspiring the engineers of tomorrow. It is essential that we spark fascination and excitement in the coming generations to attract them towards pioneering sustainable advances for the future of aviation.”