The space experts at NASA are poking their noses into things a bit nearer the surface of the planet, telling anyone interested in environmental issues that it knows how to make planes more efficient; by painting them with a super-slick non-stick coating that keeps them cleaner and therefore improves their efficiency at cutting through the air.
The developments are being talked about by the team at NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation project, who are testing a basket of new technologies that could make flying around boring old earth better and greener. NASA and its partners have put in a combined $650m (£450m) into developing their various eco schemes, which, along with the surface coatings that limit the impact of mashed bug residue along wing edges, include morphing wings, jet engine combustor efficiency boosts, noise reduction technology and combined hybrid wings.
Jaiwon Shin, NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics research, thinks it's been money and six years of development time well spent, saying: "If these technologies start finding their way into the airline fleet, our computer models show the economic impact could amount to $255 billion in operational savings between 2025 and 2050."
The amount contributed by something so tiny as stopping bugs sticking to wings could be enormous, with tests last year showing that clean wings may reduce fuel consumption by up to six per cent on some designs of plane. [NASA via Telegraph]