European manufacturer Airbus has created a concept aircraft inspired by the natural features of eagles, hawks and other aerial predators. The “Bird of Prey” concept was unveiled by Liam Fox, UK Secretary of State for International Trade, at the Royal International Air Tattoo air show on Friday.

The bird-like conceptual airline design features multiple propellors, a rudder branded with the Union Jack, and something called “feathered wings” which I can’t seem to unsee. The body of the plane is bronze-colored and looks more fish-like than anything else. The addition to the tendril-tipped wings, though, make it clear that Airbus’ designers had birds on the brain when they came up with this one.

The theoretical design is for a hybrid-electric, turbo-propeller aircraft, according to a statement on the Airbus website.

“Inspired by efficient mechanics of a bird, it has wing and tail structures that mimic those of a bird of prey, while featuring individually controlled feathers that provide active flight control,” the statement reads.

The aircraft would be capable of carrying up to 80 passengers and would burn 30%-50% less fuel than comparable aircraft in operation today.
While the aircraft won’t be built, the aim of the project is to motivate the next generation of aeronautical engineers, according to Martin Aston, a senior manager at Airbus.
“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,” Aston said in the statement.
Aston hopes the project will help to make aviation more sustainable, with cleaner, greener and quieter planes by taking design cues from nature.
“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?” he said.
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