By Andrea Romano
July 24, 2019
Courtesy of Airbus

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s kind of both?

Airbus has created a new design that is meant to look a little like a “bird of prey” in hopes of inspiring a new generation of engineers, according to a statement on the Airbus website.

The new design, which features slightly curved wings and tails that look like a bird’s feathers, was unveiled in the U.K. at the Royal International Air Tattoo air show last week, USA Today reported.

The design, at the moment, is entirely conceptual, but features “hybrid-electric propulsion, active control systems and advanced composite structures,” Airbus said in a statement. Each of the unusual “feathers” on the edge of the plane’s wings and tail are meant to be individually manipulated for better flight experience and control.

In addition, the “blended wing-to-fuselage joint” is meant to be more aerodynamic, mimicking the look and feel of an eagle or falcon in the air, according to Airbus. Taking inspiration from nature is one way Airbus hopes to create a quieter and more eco-friendly aircraft in the future, which is a goal many airlines are setting to combat climate change and accommodate growing demands.

For example, Dutch airline KLM unveiled a design for an aerodynamic “Flying V” shaped plane back in June that would carry up to 314 passengers but use “20 percent less fuel” than the Airbus A350.

“One of the priorities for the entire industry is how to make aviation more sustainable – making flying cleaner, greener and quieter than ever before,” said Martin Aston, Senior Manager at Airbus, in a statement. “We know from our work on the A350 XWB passenger jet that through biomimicry, nature has some of the best lessons we can learn about design.”

After all, who better to learn about aerodynamic flight than nature itself?

“Our ‘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 crucially-important aerospace sector,” said Aston.

It’s not certain whether this new, bird-like design will be hitting runways any time soon, but this exciting concept could get anyone excited about air travel.

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