Thursday, April 5, 2007

Future Planes Might be "Flying Wings"

The next evolution in commercial airliner design might just make it a lot harder to get a window seat, but the lucky few that do will have a spectacular forward view! The "flying wing" concept was created in 1961 by Sir Frederick Handley Page and Greener By Design (a group which includes Airbus, Rolls-Royce and the UK Department for Transport - they work on sustainable aviation) believes that the new airliners will start operational service in 2025 and that by 2055 they will make up a third of the world’s fleet.

The fuselage would be turned into one wing to create less drag and engines would sit on top, with the wing shielding the noise from the ground. Passengers would sit in rows of up to 40 seats across. Wings would consume only a third of the fuel used by existing aircraft. They will be constructed of plastic, rather than aluminium, to reduce their weight. The outer surface would be covered in millions of tiny holes to reduce drag by sucking in air as it flows over the wing.
The impact on the world’s climate would be reduced even further by changes in the way that airlines operate. All airliners will alter their cruising altitude to avoid the conditions that form condensation trails. They could also reduce the amount of fuel they burn by flying in formation, as jet fighters do.

Boeing is working on designs for a military flying wing that will serve as a troop carrier or tanker. Cranfield University, in Bedfordshire, is producing a scale model for Boeing, which will be used for flight tests.
Airbus is also working on a flying wing design under a four-year, £20 million research project that is funded by the European Union and expected to report in 2009.

some of the ways used to make the future aircraft less noisy:
* putting the engines above the aircraft, so that the body of the plane itself shields the ground from noise

* embedding them in long ducts, muffled with acoustic liners, to reduce the noise

* designing an advanced engine; relocating the engines inside the airframe raises many engineering challenges.

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