Monday, November 06, 2006

A Jet to be Seen but not Heard

A U.S.-British team of researchers from academia and the aerospace industry believes that the passenger aircraft of the distant future will not only be fuel efficient but also virtually silent. Shown above is an artist's rendering of a concept for a nearly silent jet. The research project aims to lead to development of a virtually silent, fuel-efficient plane by 2030. The aircraft would not have flaps and it's wings and body would be blended together.

The design adds a new twist to aviation's long history of mixed success developing flying wings designed to be more fuel- and space-efficient than conventional aircraft with long, narrow fuselages. The design, to be announced in a news conference at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, would blend fuselage and wings together so that the entire airframe provides lift — an approach that to date has been confined largely to payload-carrying military aircraft such as long-range bombers.

To reduce sound reaching the ground, the jet engines would be embedded into the plane's body, rather than hung from the wings as on conventional airliners. The engines would have variable-size jet nozzles, allowing slower jet propulsion during takeoff and landing but efficient cruising at higher speeds.

(From the Associated Press)

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