Airbus unveiled a bird-like conceptual airliner design with the goal of motivating the next generation of aeronautical engineers, emphasizing how they can make a difference by applying technologies researched at the company in hybrid-electric propulsion, active control systems, and advanced composite structures.

The Airbus “Bird of Prey” isn’t intended to represent an actual aircraft, but it is based on realistic ideas.   The theoretical design is a hybrid-electric, turbo-propeller regional aircraft inspired by biomimicry  – the design and production of materials, structures, and systems inspired by nature.  In this case, the aircraft mimics the efficient mechanics of a bird, with wing and tail structures copying those of a bird of prey.  Individually controlled feathers provide active flight control and the blended wing-to-fuselage joint mirrors the aerodynamic arch of an eagle or falcon, representing the potential of biomimicry.

“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,” explained Martin Aston, a 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 A350 XWB passenger jet that through biomimicry, nature has some of the best lessons we can learn about design. Who can’t help but be inspired by such a creation?”

The Bird of Prey concept highlights the 50th anniversary of Airbus as an aircraft manufacturer. The conceptual design initiative is backed by the GREAT Britain campaign, the Royal Aeronautical Society, the Air League, the Institution of Engineering and the Technology and Aerospace Technology Institute.

The concept of biomimicry is not entirely new to Airbus, and Composites Manufacturing Magazine has followed these developments closely. Learn more from this CM blog post:

Airbus AlbatrossOne’s Flapping Wingtips Made of Carbon Fiber and Fiberglass