PARSIFAL, A Closed-Wing Design Aircraft

Prandtlplane Architecture for the Sustainable Improvement of Future AirpLanes, that’s what PARSIFAL stands for.


Have you heard the news that the French government is going to add a new tax for aircraft travelers? That is one of the ways to discourage the use of planes that really emit a lot of greenhouse gasses. Three percent of all emissions in Europe, to be exact.

Among all the other ecological challenges that we ought to deal with, the modernization of aircraft technologies has been on the schedule for a long time. Just like American spacecraft industry saw its stagnation after the 60s, and then, its revival in the modern era, we hope to see an innovator who’d reshape the aircraft industry and turn it into a sustainable and eco-friendly means of traveling.

The best solution, of course, would be to cease traveling by air completely but obviously, it won’t happen.

Hopefully, the time for a change has come, at least a minor one.

Project PARSIFAL , under the guidance of Professor Aldo Frediani of the University of Pisa, is aiming to implement the ideas of long-gone German aviation engineer, Ludwig Prandtl, whose vision of plane design was not accepted well at the time of its appearance in 1924.

Frediani mathematically proved that Prandtl’s design was viable back in 1990. This design is meant to greatly reduce the rate of fuel consumption during the take-off and landing: instead of conventional two wings, an aircraft is going to have a closed-wing design in the shape of a honeycomb.

According to the modern calculations, the design improvement will also result in the reduction of a plane’s overall weight by up to 30%. Besides, such a plane is meant to be less noisy.

The honeycomb is not the only nature-inspired shape used in the design. Melanie Gralow is an ardent admirer of engineering solutions found in the organic world, so this time, the grass turned out to be a prototype for aircraft struts.

It would be perfect to build a whole plane using an industrial 3D printer, but no such printer exists for sure. Besides, the researchers still need to work out the best overall plane composition: engine position, aerodynamics, controls, etc.

The reduction of emissions, energy efficiency and, perhaps, the usage of environment-friendly materials would help humanity a big deal considering the recent Greta Thunberg speech. It is not a bad idea at all, the question is, are we going to support it? As the project headliners admit, whether or not such a plane appears in the air, would greatly depend on the interest of manufacturers.