German aerospace center DLR has been chasing wakes, in a bid to develop tools to predict turbulence in the cruise and simplify the certification of new aircraft. The tests involved flying DLR's Falcon 20E research aircraft through the wakes of cruising airliners in the airspace above Germany, and placed "high physical requirements on the test team and the test aircraft."Photo: DLR
Working with air traffic control and the pilots of the airliners, DLR researchers selected potential targets in real time, obtained permission to fly through the wakes and received required flight data from the aircraft crews. The Falcon conducted 200 tests in wake turbulence from 5nm to 25nm behind the airliners.
Of particular interest was the wake's strength after it had sunk behind the aircraft. This will allow the assessment in advance of the effect that sinking wake turbulence has on aircraft flying at narrow vertical seperations, DLR says. The data is also expected, eventually, to help with certification of new very large aircraft by detemining when and where is it safe to fly through the wake turbulence.