owls are providing scientists with tips on improving the design of the Stealth aircraft. The winged predators could provide clues to reducing noise in future aircraft. The prey of owls -- rats and mice -- have excellent hearing, so they cannot afford to fly as noisily as other birds. "The owl has to be able to fly silently to have a good dinner," says Lilley, who works at the us National Aeronautics and Space Administration's ( nasa) Langley Research Centre in Virginia, usa. The owl has feathers that are different from those of other birds. "The flight feathers of most birds have sharp, clean edges," says Gerry Carr, a biochemist at the University of Victoria in British Colombia, Canada.
"But the leading edges of the flight feathers of an owl and the wing's tailing edges are characterised by soft, feathery 'fringes' which have the effect of muffling the flow of air as it passes over the wing," said Carr. According to Jeremy Rayner, a bird flight expert at the University of Bristol, it is possible that the owl will yield secrets that engineers can use.
He said that engineers have already used bird-like designs to improve the efficiency and reduce the noise of helicopter blades.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.