Home » Commercial » Airbus » A350 » FOLDING WINGTIPS on AIRBUS AIRCRAFT?

Folding Wingtips on Airbus aircraft? It may just be on the way. In recent days it’s been reported that Airbus made expressed their interest in applying folding wingtips to their aircraft in the future. In today’s video, I explain how these would be different to the Boeing folding wingtips, the reason for the interest and more!

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100 comments

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  • 90,000!!! WHAT! This is incredible! We are literally under 10,000 subs away from hitting the big 100k. A number I never thought would be possible. Thank you all!

  • Speaking of technology will we start seeing tri-jets again where there's one main 'cruising' engine and two additional jets engines only used during take-offs and landings and emergencies? What kind of fuel saving would that net if any at all? I suppose the secondary jet engines will have to be in a special housing that is aerodynamic during idle use but quickly open up when required.

    • sweetwater88 that would work only for smaller aircraft – a revolutionary engine with minimum of 150,000-200,000 lbf thrust output would be required for your idea to work. Currently, the engine with the most thrust output would is the GE9X engine, manufactured by General Electric with a thrust output of ~125,000 lbf.

  • Make sense that Boeing has the wing tips up. Boeing’s military jets have their wing tips up as well and have been doing this for decades.

  • I can already see airbus and Boeing aircraft with folding wingtips jam when they need to fold in at smaller airports.

  • As an aircraft engineer working on Airbus and Boeing I'm not looking forward for this at all, for me folding wing tips will increase ground maintenance and it's another point of failure I need to worry about before dispatching the aircraft. I can already picture that 777X coming back to stand with an indication problem on the locking mechanism.

  • It is too late to add them to the A380, that would be to much money especially when airports have spent so much just to accommodate the A380.

  • Copy cats :l but its how airbus made no reference to boeing's folding wingtips and made it seem as though its something brand new and they came up with it

    • Joshua Small folding down wingtips are totally different than Boeing's folded up orientation in more ways than one.

    • Jαρsτεrr yes ofc folding down and up are opposites but the general idea of folding tips on commercial airplanes boeing implemented before airbus

  • They will not add these to current airplanes – the engineering required would be substantial. So, this is for the next wide body airplane that Airbus builds. My guess that is 20+ years away.

    Folding down is stupid, that creates a huge hazard for airport operations. It would still need to lock as well. You can't have a part flopping around. I would bet the locking mechanism weight and complexity for a downward fold verses an upwards fold is negligible.

    Airbus is playing follow the leader again.

    • chaotic house the force exerted by lift on the wing would orient the wingtip upwards, hence a simpler, and thereby lighter locking mechanism can be used in downward folding wingtips to keep the wingtip extended.

    • Jαρsτεrr the mechanism that holds the tip stationary would be the same. The tip can't be held in place by lift. It must be rigid regardless of which way it folds.

      It could be argued that the force necessary to lift the tip is greater than the resistance needed to lower the tip. Therefore the mechanism would be heavier.

    • chaotic house the wingtip would remain extended throughout the flight, only when it touches the ground will it be retracted. Unlike the folding upwards wingtip, the locking mechanism faces severe wear and tear as it opposes the force exerted by the lift generated. On the downward folding wingtip, lift works ALONG with the lock, and hence less rigid locking mechanisms are required.

    • I don't agree but in the light of no evidence to support either argument I will not continue. That said, I highly doubt any airplane manufacturer would fold a wing tip down and introduce the airplane to risk of damage by colliding with something on the ground or something on the ground colliding into it.

  • I wonder if folding wingtips will need to be "deployed" in the flight position, when the jet liner is being treated with de-icing fluid?

  • Downward folding wings would be inherently safer than upward, as the lift during flight would keep them raised even if the locking mechanism failed.

  • I like Airbus. My name says different,
    but I really do.
    Anyways I really hate this low key following type of bullshit !!

  • They should fold up. Folding down still creates problem on the ground with ground crew running into them

  • Both up or down, folding wingtips are just another possible PoF imho…
    But if one has to choose, folding downwards is just a waaay better option
    Why? Well, any kind of locking mech failure in flight wouldn't be so catastrophic 'cause the wing tip will be kept inline with the wing by the airflow and also if airport ground personnel learned how to dodge these modern huge engines , I believe they'll learn how to avoid folded wingtip too…

  • Of course we’re used to wings that end with them pointing up, but pointing down will definitely be a change

  • Instead of folding and intruding in Boeing’s patent, why don’t they have swivels?
    Make it swivel forward, so inflight drag forces it flush, and swivel forward so they don’t have heavy pistons or servos that hold the top up or down. A lighter servo would be able to do the swivel easily

  • The real problem with large wingspan aircraft is the wake turbulence and extra-long following distance required for takeoff and landing. If the folding wingtip can reduce the vortex, that's great. But if we just have more super-class airplanes, we won't get the benefits of higher passenger loads at slot-controlled airports.

  • Beyond the question on technology, what about Airbus’s statement…the world wanting larger and larger aircraft. How well is the A380 selling, guys? Is Airbus going to replace the A380 with a 500 seat twin engine plane? They don’t need to fold the wings of the A350 or A380.

  • folding wingtips or not, untill they can get someone beside GE to build, make them a 115+ K thrust engine all this talk about this or that ain't happening…

  • From pure aerodynamics, downward tips better counter the natural tendency for vortex to form spinning from blow to above wing. The tip should act to counter the vortex. Since downward on the ground could be hazardous, maybe the design will go to a multi-fold shape, with 2 or 3 hinge axes? (or equivalent smooth curve surface)
    Then, there is Burt Rutan's favorite, canards to add lift. Maybe bi-plane redux?

  • Having gone through a great deal of ramp training I can say that airports will not be thrilled with the wingtips down approach. Entirely too much can and will go wrong. Once again, Airbus trying to play catch up while not looking like they are trying to play catch up…

  • I like the idea of folding down wing tips. I have thought of that idea for a couple years now. My idea though was to fold them down so that the aircraft could gain more lift from ground effect. Just look up WIG aircraft to see what I mean. This would allow aircraft to take off/land on shorter runways.

  • Boeing mostly goes first, then Airbus. Although Boeing fail several times while trying something revolutionary, but it’s an innovative company and creating trends, then Airbus following them. The Boeing 787 is an example, the 777x also.

  • Navel aircraft have heavily relied on folding upward wings since WW2 through today. As far as being a weakness, you have to consider the aerodynamic stresses military aircraft endure and how proven the locking designs are in real life under conditions a civilian airliner will never face.

  • Very interesting concept….down folding makes sense with the simpler locking mech but more susceptible to damage by ground equipment etc. but extended wings, very interesting !

  • The US navy has used folding wings for decades with no problems and those planes perform very hard maneuvers. They also fold up. Boeing is on the right track.

  • Better mechanical advantage with tip down. Less parts, gravity takes over in down position, and mechanical stops will ensure more positive, rigid position for flight mode. Makes more sense for me anyway.

  • why cant wingtips retract into the wing?… I mean it would save space in airports (around the wing) and would look a lot cleaner. Also, the aircraft could fly with them retracted for shorter flights or if not beneficial for some other reason. I guess it would waste space in the wing, but i'm imagining it wouldn't have too much impact.

  • Folding wing tips is not new. Look at fighter aircraft on aircraft carrier. Most plane have folding wing tips. It is safer for the wing tip to be folder downwards. When flying, lift tends to push the wing upwards and there will not be a possibility for the wing to drop downwards until after landing. This is simply applying physics to aerodynamics

  • Hmmm, Airbus being stupid. The limiting factor in a fold down design is the height of the wing tip above the ground. Furthermore to all the geniuses out there that think folding down is cool, the wing tip folded down is now exposed to ground vehicles moving around the aircraft. The tips can't be lowered until gate arrival either, so taxing with the tips down is also out

  • Fold down, lift up. Folding can go either way, but lift is only up. And the secure locking of wingtips upward is just heavy, as any prisoner can tell you. Handen hoch! It's more work than dangling one's wingtips.

  • I think folding it down will be better. I would assume it is a "fail proof" design from the start.
    Nice move from Airbus, congratulations on Boeing for being the innovators but as often, it is not about who does it first but who does it better.

  • Fold down is dumb. There are gonna be so many strikes with ground vehicles, small buildings. Airports are very busy places and some zero hour contract teenager is not going to look where he is going. Just saying.
    Swing forward. I've patented it already. Get in line Airbus and Boeing.

  • Well in that case Dj Aviation, before Airbus do anything they talk about it first. Plus when Airbus want to do something, they make sure that it is safe first before proceeding. Boeing can be doing the same thing, they don't care about saftey thats. Boeing for you..

  • If folding down was the best option then all or at least most naval aircraft would have them. Boeing have lots of experience with folding wingtips on F/A-18 hornets, which fold up. Folding down also limits the amount of wing you can fold.

  • I do not understand the suggestion that downward folding wingtips would not require a locking mechanism. That’s nonsense. Surely most everyone has flown and watched a wing in flight – they flex. Picture what happens when an aircraft banks and you’ll release that an unsecured wingtip is just nuts.

  • I rather have locking mechanism to hold them up on the ground. Versus the potential for them to fall down during flight. Worded differently, a ground incident is better than an inflight emergency or crash.

  • Up, down, what does it matter…. just increase the landing fee  $$$$ and charge the passengers more for  ground provisions…. that's what will happen anyway,

  • As a USN pilot using wing folding daily, it is no big deal. Folding down limits the size of the fold section. This is being different for different sake not for practical future implementation to bigger and bigger aircraft. Airbus will shoot themselves in the foot.

  • Downwards? Seriously. Just dumb. They're going to get hit quite a bit. Up is tried and true method. I have to laugh at those suggesting that a hydraulic failure would lead to an upwards fold magically opening. Upwards folding wing locking mechanisms have been long mastered — Over 70 years now. It's almost like people don't understand that wings and engines are held on by 2-3 large pins/bolts, and a wing locking mechanism is but an extension of what's already done. In-fact, the folding mechanism is made even more robust because it is a stress point. The claim that up is complex or difficult hydraulically…..how much force do you think it takes to put down triple slotted flaps on C17s and virtually all large aircraft. Landing gear? now that's heavy. AB — if you're going to go for another idea after Boeing decides to use it…..just understand that sometimes their method is the correct one in the first place. Had AB used such on the A380, they would have sold more of them.

  • I think folding down on the ground is better, as the wings in flight are uplifted by aerodynamics, which makes a failure in flight more unlikely.

    By the way folding wing(tips) is nothing new invented by Boeing -> Short Brothers, the first company to manufacture aircraft, was also the first one to patent fold-able wings in 1913, and a lot of fighter jets use this technology today.

  • Crow has patent for folding wings, let alone wingtips. If crow can have technology transfer, entire wings can be folded 😛

  • Fold up technology is well known, used for years with military aircraft. Why reinvent the wheel. Plus a much larger wing can be folded up.

  • Folding wing tip is still limited to how much you can fold, especially if it is folded down. I would be interested in the telescopic design. Not sure how it can be done with the fuel tanks embedded. Worth looking into though.

  • Which airplane airbus or Boeing is really better airplane with Quilty and don’t have cracking issue which airplane should you really fly on airbus

  • Folded down can actually make sense in regards to a locking mechanism. Say you don’t have any additional moving mechanics. When taking off the wing would naturally swing up into its final flight characteristics. When landing, once there in no more air flowing over the wingtips gravity would take over and allow the wingtips to drop. It can actually work.

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