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A. An Aircraft Wing Design That Dramatically Reduces Wake Turbulence

Narrator: This is Science Today. The strength of the turbulence generated in a plane's wake can be significantly reduced by the addition of triangular flaps on the aircraft's wings. Mechanical engineer Omer Savas, of the University of California, Berkeley, says the triangular flaps work by destabilizing wake turbulence, or wake vortices.

Savas: We designed a simple wing basically taking an ordinary wing and putting outboard flaps, as opposed to inboard flaps. By doing that we were able to generate this vortice system, which causes internal instabilites within the vortice system and destabilizes the whole wake and makes it less harmful to the airplane which is following it.

Narrator: Savas says their wing design could make a substantial difference not only in flight safety, but also airport capacity.

Savas: The reason why you wait at the beginning of the runway for a minute and a half or so is that you have to wait for the vortice system to dissipate itself. 6:50 So the question was, what can we do to shorten this time? Quite a few of the airports across the world - the capacity has been limited by this vortice behavior.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.