Airbus believes that formation flying could potentially happen on high-frequency routes from 2050 onwards.
In its latest vision for sustainable aviation, the plane manufacturer also said that shorter flights would save fuel and dramatically reduce CO2 emissions.
It stated that by the middle of the 21st century, flights in Europe and the USA could be an average of 13 minutes shorter, saving around nine million tonnes of fuel each year.
Shorter journey times, which could be achieved by the optimisation of air traffic management and on-board technology systems, would lead to the annual saving of more than 28 million tonnes of avoidable CO2 emissions a year as well as the saving of five million flying hours.
Airbus also envisages planes free-gliding on their approach into airports to reduce emissions and reduce noise, and aircrafts climbing more steeply on take-off to minimise noise and allow for shorter runways.
In addition, the company imagines an increase in the use of sustainable biofuels and other potential energy sources such as electricity, hydrogen and solar power, plus highly intelligent aircraft which are able to “self-organise” and select the most efficient and environmentally friendly routes.
It would also like to see passengers reaching terminals faster, so travellers at airports such as Stansted and Luton can get to their destinations in a speedier and more relaxed manner.
Copyright Press Association 2012