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Loew
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Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 1:33 pm

Hello everyone,


Today we see a tremendous progress in materials, which reflects in new planes being lighter and more fuel efficient than older planes. However, basic design of a tube with two conventional low wings, four and later two jet engines places under the wings, and conventional tail became a standard design for most of passenger and cargo planes decades ago. What do you think is the future of the design? Are we going to see some sort of a "flying wing" design in the future? or maybe delta wing design? Are we going to see hydrogen engines? Or some other types of propulsion? Thank you in advance for sharing your opinions :)
 
Ruscoe
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 2:17 pm

I think the "flying wing" will be the basis of the next revolution in large aircraft design. It could carry 1000+, in relative comfort, but stay within the 80m box. Boeing are continuing their research work on it, so they may think so also.
It could have enough room so that customs, and other time consuming procedures could be performed on the aircraft in flight when travelling long distance. The current failure in the extra large part of the market, has been created by both Airbus and Boeing creating smaller craft that are in the same ball park in terms of operating costs as their extra large products. A fundamental new design, with a huge jump in capacity, could turn the tables again in the operating cost per seat area.
Obviously new materials will be developed, which should help.
As for the smaller conventional type aircraft I expect they will continue, but up to what size, before alternative basic designs become more attractive?

Ruscoe
 
VC10er
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 2:34 pm

I have thought of this a lot. I look at "FUTURE" aircraft design concepts all the time. Unfortunately I probably wont be alive to see a leap on the same scale as a DC 4 to a 787 or A350, or even bigger, like a sub-orbital aircraft that make it from NY to Sydney in a few hours. This small obsession of mine started in 1969 when I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey and the PanAm space shuttle. Clearly Arthur C. Clarke got his timing wrong, it probably should have been 2100: A Space Odyssey!
The world is missing love, let's use our flights to spread it!
 
Whalejet
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:14 pm

BWBs are a possibility, but also keep in mind that the air cargo industry will continue to grow and make up a large share of plane orders. Just by looking at it, a BWB seems nearly impossible to load with current cargo designs-all the containers that the cargo companies put their shipments in (which are shaped like the curve of the fuselage to ease loading) would need be different on a BWB, due to the curvature of the wing being used as a cargo hold (presumably).

That brings me to supersonic flight. Supersonic cargo jets would be awesome. But I see one obstruction to both BWBs and supersonics-jet fuel. Our reserves are draining, and prices will soon rise. You can't throw a wind turbine or a nuclear powerplant on a plane. I know Qatar has made a natural gas powered plane. Natural gas has better fuel burn then Jet Fuel, but making proper fuel from LNG is tricky, resulting in high costs. A possible fuel source could be the biggest obstruction.
 
planespotter20
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:48 pm

Ruscoe wrote:
I think the "flying wing" will be the basis of the next revolution in large aircraft design. It could carry 1000+, in relative comfort, but stay within the 80m box. Boeing are continuing their research work on it, so they may think so also.
It could have enough room so that customs, and other time consuming procedures could be performed on the aircraft in flight when travelling long distance. The current failure in the extra large part of the market, has been created by both Airbus and Boeing creating smaller craft that are in the same ball park in terms of operating costs as their extra large products. A fundamental new design, with a huge jump in capacity, could turn the tables again in the operating cost per seat area.
Obviously new materials will be developed, which should help.
As for the smaller conventional type aircraft I expect they will continue, but up to what size, before alternative basic designs become more attractive?

Ruscoe


I personally don't see the BWB every being used for commercial passenger flights. As has been stated many, many times, it would be like flying in a tin can. I personally love being next to or near a window, and when I don't have one next to me it can get annoying. Having 1000+ people in one single plane and the plane being so wide that you can't see the windows it would drive people insane. Also, the farther you get from the center of the plane, the more you feel turbulence and turns. You see this in regular planes too, except everyone on our current planes are seated in the center of the aircraft. The people in the middle would be sitting comfortably, while the people on the sides would get such an unpleasant experience when the plane banks away from the airport. It would be the same as getting strapped on to the wing of a normal passenger airliner. Pressurization would also be an issue. Since the easiest space to pressurize is a cylinder (source: previous threads I don't remember the specifics) a BWB would put way too much stress on certain parts when it is fully pressurized.

Now, that being said, I see the future of aircraft design will be ever more focused on passenger experience, and I can see some bold new designs that could make flights more pleasant (see http://www.airbus.com/innovation/future-by-airbus/ ). I can see moderate expansions in width of an aircraft, and more flexible materials could create a plane that could be moldable to conditions. Noise reductions, social gathering spaces, and technology gadgets and what not are what I see the future of flying to be like. Another possibility could be a facilitated entrance and exit from the plane, and that planes will be more and more like mini cruise ships, with amenities beyond a seat, food, television, and wifi.

Instead of having a flying slave ship (the BWB) we will see continuous progress with the tube and wings design of today.
 
masseybrown
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 4:01 pm

We probably need an order of magnitude reduction in the cost of energy to make huge speed advances economically possible and it doesn't look as if that reduction is around the corner. Meanwhile we'll see small improvements to existing designs.
 
tomcat
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 4:11 pm

A double-tube design (side by side, 8 to 12 meters apart) might have a chance. It's still relatively conventional and brings more capacity than the current single-aisle aircraft with a limited increase of frontal area (less than going to today's twin-aisle designs) and wingspan, no increase of length and without significant increase of wing area and fuel capacity that automatically comes with today's higher capacity aircraft. Integration with current gates could be taken care by making the right-hand tube slightly longer than the left-hand tube, so that the right hand tube could be connected to a gate located on the left side of the aircraft, as it is today.

Otherwise, we might also have to consider the hyperloop as an alternative to aircraft, if the concept gets proven.
 
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TWA772LR
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:13 pm

Ruscoe wrote:
It could have enough room so that customs, and other time consuming procedures could be performed on the aircraft in flight when travelling long distance

I personally would LOVE for this to happen.
Whalejet wrote:
Natural gas has better fuel burn then Jet Fuel, but making proper fuel from LNG is tricky, resulting in high costs. A possible fuel source could be the biggest obstruction.

It's costly now, but once the process is perfected and being produced en masse to the point economies of scale are reached, we have a viable new fuel source. However with the advent of biofuels, natural gas would have a hard time competing. The best way to get natural gas production going on the same scale as gasoline, is to introduce natural-gas powered personal cars by the big manufacturers (Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, etc...).
tomcat wrote:
A double-tube design (side by side, 8 to 12 meters apart) might have a chance

You'll still run into this issue...
planespotter20 wrote:
Also, the farther you get from the center of the plane, the more you feel turbulence and turns.

...albeit probably not at the same magnitude of a BWB, depending on the BWB's cabin width.
Eat 'em up Kats!
 
MoonC
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:34 pm

Ruscoe wrote:
I think the "flying wing" will be the basis of the next revolution in large aircraft design. It could carry 1000+, in relative comfort, but stay within the 80m box.

"Comfort" is not really the first thing that springs to my mind seeing that...thing.

Image
 
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PHBVF
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:37 pm

Funny that some of the posts here seam to focus on mass (hub and spoke) transport, while the market seems to prefer point to point flights.
I think the future will not see that many drastic enhancements to the beholder. Aircraft will remain tube-ish with wings mounted to them.
Some interesting concepts by Boeing:
Image
This might benefit bigger, more efficient engines, while making use of space occupied by structural parts and could be interesting for whatever comes to replace the 777X.

Image
Another bit more well known, elliptical fuselage cross section. Might be a concept for the MoM....

Image
And something that has been through the windtunnel.

This will be the magnitude of change from current generation aircraft if you ask me.
That and hybrid electric aircraft....
Licensed 737 driver
 
WIederling
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:39 pm

Ruscoe wrote:
It could carry 1000+, in relative comfort, but stay within the 80m box.


What happened to "Two Large Twins is the best VLA you could ever wish for". :-)
Murphy is an optimist
 
tomcat
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:51 pm

TWA772LR wrote:
tomcat wrote:
A double-tube design (side by side, 8 to 12 meters apart) might have a chance

You'll still run into this issue...
planespotter20 wrote:
Also, the farther you get from the center of the plane, the more you feel turbulence and turns.

...albeit probably not at the same magnitude of a BWB, depending on the BWB's cabin width.


I don't see this as a no go or even an issue at all. Would it be worse than experiencing pitch-up or pitch-down maneuvers while sitting at the front end or the rear end of a 77W?
 
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TWA772LR
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:06 pm

tomcat wrote:
TWA772LR wrote:
tomcat wrote:
A double-tube design (side by side, 8 to 12 meters apart) might have a chance

You'll still run into this issue...
planespotter20 wrote:
Also, the farther you get from the center of the plane, the more you feel turbulence and turns.

...albeit probably not at the same magnitude of a BWB, depending on the BWB's cabin width.


I don't see this as a no go or even an issue at all. Would it be worse than experiencing pitch-up or pitch-down maneuvers while sitting at the front end or the rear end of a 77W?

Not sure since I've never flown on a 77W, but there aren't many times where a change in an aircraft's AoA is noticeable under normal circumstances, rotation and flare are the only instances I can think of. The plane does more rolling while in flight than anything.
Eat 'em up Kats!
 
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DocLightning
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:23 pm

Ruscoe wrote:
I think the "flying wing" will be the basis of the next revolution in large aircraft design. It could carry 1000+, in relative comfort, but stay within the 80m box.


But the 500+ A380 didn't sell, not because its linear dimensions were too big (although that was an issue), but because its capacity was too high. So a larger airplane that fits in the same 80m box still wouldn't sell any better.

The BWB is a fine idea in straight and level flight if you can work out the pressurization issues, but as soon as you belly land or ditch or have a fire and need to evacuate, there are fundamental geometrical problems. As soon as you bank hard, there are problems. As soon as you need to position ground support equipment you have problems. It's just not a practical design.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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lightsaber
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 7:38 pm

The FAA is working to iconify flying wing evacuation. In particular with a landing gear collapse. That structure has its advantages.

For engines, we'll see 3.5:1 GTFs, CMC hot components, variable cycle technology (LEAP with variable turbine cooling is first, Pratt has variable fan nozzles, a variable core nozzle requires a step change in costs, more turbine cooling circuits).

The big push is maintenance. We're finally seeing electric component cost savings on the 787 and the LEAP and GE9x continue the trend. (I'm sad, I'm an expert at pneumatics and hydraulics... Obsolete education...).

Underside laminar flow in wings is next. We're talking a 5% fuel burn reduction.

The BIG thing is folding wingtips. CFRP/GFRP allows far better shapes, but gate space for each aircraft has been a limit. The 777x is just the start... I see every aircraft in service as ripe for a re-wing or replacement by 2025.

Whalejet wrote:
BWBs are a possibility, but also keep in mind that the air cargo industry will continue to grow and make up a large share of plane orders. Just by looking at it, a BWB seems nearly impossible to load with current cargo designs-all the containers that the cargo companies put their shipments in (which are shaped like the curve of the fuselage to ease loading) would need be different on a BWB, due to the curvature of the wing being used as a cargo hold (presumably).

That brings me to supersonic flight. Supersonic cargo jets would be awesome. But I see one obstruction to both BWBs and supersonics-jet fuel. Our reserves are draining, and prices will soon rise. You can't throw a wind turbine or a nuclear powerplant on a plane. I know Qatar has made a natural gas powered plane. Natural gas has better fuel burn then Jet Fuel, but making proper fuel from LNG is tricky, resulting in high costs. A possible fuel source could be the biggest obstruction.

Look at the Northrop concepts. Pallets and connected. Far more flexible than today's freighters.

That said, air cargo is becoming belly cargo. There is just too much economic incentive to redesign structures to be modular and fit in the belly vs. main deck. Passenger sales have dwarfed freighter sales forever.

The new silk road railroad will take a chunk of main deck freight too.

Lightsaber
"They did not know it was impossible, so they did it!" - Mark Twain
 
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lightsaber
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:52 pm

DocLightning wrote:
Ruscoe wrote:
I think the "flying wing" will be the basis of the next revolution in large aircraft design. It could carry 1000+, in relative comfort, but stay within the 80m box.


But the 500+ A380 didn't sell, not because its linear dimensions were too big (although that was an issue), but because its capacity was too high. So a larger airplane that fits in the same 80m box still wouldn't sell any better.

The BWB is a fine idea in straight and level flight if you can work out the pressurization issues, but as soon as you belly land or ditch or have a fire and need to evacuate, there are fundamental geometrical problems. As soon as you bank hard, there are problems. As soon as you need to position ground support equipment you have problems. It's just not a practical design.

Doc,
I respect your opinion. The A380 had an issue of not being good enough to drive volume.

I propose a BWB would have low enough fuel burn. Now it would require electric subsystems to also drive down ownership costs.

The A380 also suffered enough delays to reach the end of the 15 year sales life. We're just at the expected end of sales. :(

To everyone (not directly to the Doc, he knows this):
A NEO and a stretch a la 77W would have extended sales. Today is too late.

Larger planes require a significant CASM advantage to overcome the RASM advantage of frequency and fragmentation.

Lightsaber
"They did not know it was impossible, so they did it!" - Mark Twain
 
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SomebodyInTLS
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:13 pm

I thought about this topic while briefly lying across two airline seats the other day - it really is much more comfortable for me to lie down than sit up for hours and hours on end (I can never sleep on aircraft or bus seats, and I actually find "reclined" to be less comfortable than upright, so that is not a solution for me at all).

So while lying there looking up at the high ceiling of the A380 lower deck, I started pondering the various bunk-bed concepts there have been over the years - and came to a realisation... as far as I know, all these concepts have been designed to build in to existing airliners (presumably using something like the seat-tracks and other fixing points); but what if the aircraft was designed with such furnishings from the outset?

In that case, you could completely do away with the current floor and luggage-rack fittings and actually use the integrity of the bed hardware to supplement the aircraft structure! Think Tokyo pod-hotel units, each with dedicated AVOD which should also link to several outside cameras to replace the windows. (I'm a window-seat guy myself, but I love the A380 tail camera and know how much weight those window belts cost versus a pure tube design...). From this concept, it was a small jump to BWB filled with floor-to-ceiling stacked bed pods - and with those structural pods instead of "empty cabin air" that actually makes a pure flying wing much easier to create!

Of course, this would require some new legislation with respect to crash testing etc., but I actually expect survivability to be better in such a design - both for the occupants and for the aircraft structure itself. As ever it comes down to "would anyone in the conservative aerospace world have the guts to actually go through all the design hassle to create it and would anyone in the conservative airline world have the guts to try and market and operate it", but if those hurdles could be overcome, I for one would much rather be bunked up for a whole flight (or sharing a double-bunk with my wife), stepping out for a walk to the bar and toilets every couple of hours, than be stuck in an uncomfortable motionless zombie-state for 12 hours.
"As with most things related to aircraft design, it's all about the trade-offs and much more nuanced than A.net likes to make out."
 
gloom
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:53 pm

Since predicting a far future is quite impossible (some hits are possible, but not a shape of complete market), I'd say we should concentrate on the next 10 years development (roughly).

The road jets followed during last 10 years (ELE as I call it - Even Larger Engine) slowly ends. And there's hardly any space for more - NEOs being the perfect example. So I expect some changes to engine technology first, and also the wings. I can hardly see flying wing (or other concepts, to say the truth) becoming reality in next years - it will be evolution rather. We'll see something else - either engine location replacement (over the wing, maybe?). Or tandem, with large wings forward (like the ones we have now), smaller ones backward (large enough to be wing, and engines under the second pair). I actually can see flying X with fuselage in the middle, main wings forward-swept and back wings carrying engines. The question is the drag, as it's probably way less effective in terms of L/D than single wing.

I'm thinking a plane similar to M.39B from WW2, but opposite wing sizes (front one bigger than back one, with location adjustments to make it flyable).

Cheers,
Adam
 
parapente
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:51 pm

Considering the general timing this is IMHO quite a good topic.We have seen over the last circa 10 years a massive slew of brand new or heavily modified aircraft.Some now in service (380/748/787/350/NEO/C100/300 and soon max and 330Neo).The 778/9 3510/MRY etc to follow.
So there is bound to be quite a large pause for breath.Then at some point in time there will be replacements for the narrow bodies.Whatever comes out then will tell you whether it will be 'more of the same' or something quite different.

But we can guess a lot from the present.

1.Quads are gone for ever.All aircraft will be twins.
2.That (as stated above)600 +seaters are just to big (commercially).
3.That (due to energy density/weight/range) they will remain hydrocarbon powered.
4The RR Advance/Ultra gives the best clue of what engines will be like.ie Geared super high by pass fan with variable pitch.
5.A tube (or double side by side tube) is most likely as all airports are geared to them and we have over 50 years of expertise.Especially as they weigh so little via the use of carbon composite.

Wings.
As other writes above have noted this is where the big challenge/changes might occur.
Fully laminar top and bottom surfaces.(thin wings)
Massively high aspect ratio's
Requiring truss' and folding wing mechanisms.

The other change I see (which people will not like).
1 pilot only with a part trained addition member of crew.
Hell if you can have driverless cars on busy city streets why the hell do we need 2 pilots?We really don't.
 
LupineChemist
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:25 pm

Whalejet wrote:
BWBs are a possibility, but also keep in mind that the air cargo industry will continue to grow and make up a large share of plane orders. Just by looking at it, a BWB seems nearly impossible to load with current cargo designs-all the containers that the cargo companies put their shipments in (which are shaped like the curve of the fuselage to ease loading) would need be different on a BWB, due to the curvature of the wing being used as a cargo hold (presumably).

That brings me to supersonic flight. Supersonic cargo jets would be awesome. But I see one obstruction to both BWBs and supersonics-jet fuel. Our reserves are draining, and prices will soon rise. You can't throw a wind turbine or a nuclear powerplant on a plane. I know Qatar has made a natural gas powered plane. Natural gas has better fuel burn then Jet Fuel, but making proper fuel from LNG is tricky, resulting in high costs. A possible fuel source could be the biggest obstruction.


For aircraft, I can't see anything replacing liquid jet fuel even in the distant future. That said, there's no reason you have to get the hydrocarbon chains from petroleum extraction and at some point it will be just as cheap to do it with plant material. The technology to do that already exists and has even been certified and used in intercontinental flights.
 
zeeth
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:12 pm

I have been saturated in "futurology" and science fiction engineering & design for half a century, being fortunate enough as an art director and special effects designer to be able to sometimes utterly ignore the laws of physics and still have someone else pay to build my fanciful speculations, and then make them look like they work. (Directors are easy to get on side, producers less so). I have also been flying all my life as a passenger all over the world, my father was a pilot & owner, and I flew light aircraft between the ages 16 - 25.

I have watched with alarm as the fantastic imagination of the first sixty years of the aerospace industry (sometimes embodied in only a single flying example) has been supplanted by design via excel spreadsheet. There are still a few homebuilders and eccentric billionaires (thank goodness), but since the demise of the Concord, there seems to be nothing in the near future to get excited about. Anti-gravity and stupendously powerful tiny thrusters in vehicles with no apparent fuel storage capacity are not happening in my lifetime.

VTOL will never be trivial; super- & hyper-sonic will always be more expensive than sub-sonic. Dirigibles will continue to be as successful as hovercraft & ekranoplans. Commercial aviation design will be constrained as much by the international finance & insurance industries as it will be by technology.

There probably will not be any forward swept wings, canard arrangements, or finned lifting bodies. Tilt-rotors will probably slowly become more numerous, simply because helicopters are such an obviously ridiculous, dated design answer to a perfectly simple requirement.

Somebody, somewhere, will continue to make a low volume, mid-sized amphibian that will only be used by government agencies or heavily subsidised contractors.

Fuels will probably change enormously, including electrical power, but will make little difference to the the overall look of aircraft, unless the economies of cryogenics or vast battery banks allow novel external shapes to compromise aerodynamics. Perhaps someone will create a fuel no more flammable than water in bulk storage, but becomes catalysed at the engine in order to behave as normal fuel. Or a substance that can be released in milliseconds into volatile fuel that immediately transforms it into a non-volatile flexible, buoyant foam. Ruins the aircraft fuel system, but the aircraft can't burst into flames, or sink.

Extremely large format 3D printing could revolutionise manufacturing processes and have an effect on the look of aircraft; sequential, standardised production line techniques could become less contstraining if every aircraft could economically be utterly different from its sisters in shape or function. There will continue to be progress in making exotic materials cheaper. It is possible that a country with a large domestic market, such as India, China, even Nigeria, could totally ignore existing international standards or expectations & cheaply produce slow, reliable robot aircraft that are no more dangerous than their existing decrepit rail or bus network.

There will almost certainly be an unexpected, left-field development that will make commonplace something we haven't thought of. The only thing that will stop airlines from jamming as many passengers per cubic metre into an aircraft will be something like a massive lawsuit, or series of them, perhaps arising from accidents, or an Extremely Obese People's Rights political movement, or a heretofore covered-up acknowledgement of a massive death toll from economy seat induced DVT. Perhaps aircraft interiors will just simply become absolutely non-combustible. Drinking alcohol on aircraft could go the way of smoking. There really are patents for standing room, subway style interiors for shorthaul operations. The rich will always be comfortable, the rest of us will make cost/discomfort/safety judgements.

The only viable solution I've seen to the vertical battery-hen/stacks of sleeper bunks is the one in Fifth Element or Avatar, but it involves the acrobatics of inserting/ejecting yourself into/from a letterbox, and being anaesthetised/comatose while in there. The various flying boats & long distance passenger aircraft that had railway style sleepers charged astronomical amounts for a ticket and had almost as many crew as passengers. I'm not much interested in new ways for the wealthy to be comfy when flying.

I love the idea of BWB aircraft, just because they are so different from existing aircraft, but I like the idea of three wheeled cars for much the same reason. Yes, it can be done. Yes, it can look really cool if designed nicely. Yes, there are things that it will excel at. Yes, there are vast challenges that solving could bring unimagined innovations. Yes, it could turn out like the Dymaxion car. Yes, there are some obvious enormous negatives that can't be ignored, even in a ten-slide PowerPoint.

It could be, I hate to say it, that once you get a design for claw hammer right, you can use a slightly different shape head, slightly different metallurgy, a more refined handle, and that's as far as it's ever going to get, but that's both far too pessimistic, and ignores the history of futurology. What if you simply didn't need to use nails any more? Henry Ford said that if he had started out by asking his customers what they really wanted, they would have answered "a faster horse".

The cool stuff that ends up being built is often entirely unforeseen, but sometimes it's because of the sci-fi writers and a few crazy engineers. (There's a good reason that the inside of the ISS looks like the film sets that the engineers saw in the space films of their youth.)
 
parapente
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:04 pm

I guess we have to define 'future'.
Only one aircraft company has been around long enough to give us a good idea of how long one technological design lasts.Obviously that is Boeing.So designs from the 1960's are still very much with us and still rolling off the production lines (737,747) and 1970's too (767).
So looking at the huge crop of new or derived airliners that have just arrived nothing much is going to change over the next 40 years unless some new disruptive technology comes along.
I am personally not aware of anything.
However we can see where existing technology is taking us for the next 15% step in efficiency.
The brand new (not even out) 777X folding ,carbon fibre .high aspect wings. So that's one direction.
The geared super high by pass engines,that may even have (ultra) variable pitch.
These things we 'know'.The latter (engines) may well find their way onto the new existing aircraft via 'neo' which is an existing trend.

As for a 'whole new design'.The next aircraft will be the MOM/NSA.That is fairly certain.But with the recent announcement of the MAX10 even this will be a few years away.
As others have said it's hard to imagine it not being some kind of a tube and wings.Its a very good design (birds use it)!
However Boeing has hinted at 'ovoid' shapes which are now far more possible with the strength and lightness of carbon (perhaps with a graphemes content).
One very welcome development of the trees of wing and engine stated is that future aircraft may become very quiet indeed.Anyone living in a city will welcome that change!
 
Nean1
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:20 pm

There are some conceptual projects that I consider attractive:
1) A flying wing in the role of military transport and refueling, on the scale of the Embraer KC-390 (for passenger transport I consider that the difficulties will be insurmountable);
2) Regional jet family from 30 to 50 passengers, with overwing engines configuration, geared fan, fly-by-wire and single pilot cockpit;
3) A family of MOM aircraft (200-300 passengers), consisting of an A-321 like aircraft with a longer tube, larger wingspan and an additional 8 inches in the aisle. The "big brother" would be a trireator, with the central turbofan of reduced power and diameter;
4) Turbo-propeller transport aircraft not pressurized with only one propeller like Ayres Loadmaster. Slow and economical
5) A freighter airship, remotely controlled and equipped with electric propulsion. It would be filled with abundant hydrogen and being electric would have the ballast process simplified by receiving and depleting the water. With the use of solar cells would be an interesting option for the tropical regions with moderate winds like Amazon and Indonesia, where transport is very expensive.
 
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Matt6461
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:44 am

BWB's most commonly-claimed benefit is a 20% L/D delta attributable to losing non-lifting fuselage and and empennage wetted area and weight.
Outside of that, it seems unlikely that the structural efficiency of the design will ever overcome its inefficiency as a pressure vessel.

So if we can approach a 20% L/D delta without using the BWB, there's no obvious reason to ever use it (aside from gate constraints, maybe).
Advances in higher-AR wings, most tantalizingly a strut-braced wing some day, seem likely to get us close to or past he L/D of a low-AR BWB. So I don't expect to ever fly in one as a commercial passenger.
 
RJMAZ
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:12 am

I'm betting on electric propulsion for most regional flights. Sort of like a BMW i3 they would have an optional range extender which can be used on longer distance regional flights.

Electric driven props or fans would allow for extreme STOL performance and quiet operation from small airports. This will revolutionize aviation and open up thousands of small airports to domestic air travel.

An APU with a fraction of the thrust of the main electric engines can work as a range extender. Once at cruise altitude and the electric motors get throttled back the range extender will be able to reduce the rate of battery drain. This will allow for two to three times the range of battery only flight with a relatively small range extender.

I'd expect an ATR72 class prototype to fly in 10 years. I'd expect it to have four engines. I'd put my money on bombardier making the first move as they could reuse an old dash 7 with four 1000hp Siemens electric engines and fill he wings full of the latest battery tech.
 
LH707330
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Thu Mar 02, 2017 5:46 am

parapente wrote:
The other change I see (which people will not like).
1 pilot only with a part trained addition member of crew.
Hell if you can have driverless cars on busy city streets why the hell do we need 2 pilots?We really don't.

In this risk-averse culture, I doubt that. Engines are more reliable than pilots at the moment, but we're still required to have at least two engines.... I've read more "Plane returns after a pilot has heart attack" stories than IFSDs.
 
SCAT15F
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:21 am

Advanced technology turboprop AKA open rotor is inevitable, it will always be significantly more efficient than the most efficient turbofan and is capable of maintaining double digit sfc over any turbofan even at cruise speeds exceeding .8 mach. NASA's ATP program verified this in the 80's. The only issues are noise, airframe integration, and public perception. A LOT of progress has been made on the first two since the late 80's to the point where they are essentially solved. The third, public perception, will be hopefully be resolved when fuel prices go up.
 
Arctage
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:42 pm

Hmmmmm, not sure, guess that's what Boeing is saving the 797 for, a concept....
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Starlionblue
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:10 am

LH707330 wrote:
parapente wrote:
The other change I see (which people will not like).
1 pilot only with a part trained addition member of crew.
Hell if you can have driverless cars on busy city streets why the hell do we need 2 pilots?We really don't.

In this risk-averse culture, I doubt that. Engines are more reliable than pilots at the moment, but we're still required to have at least two engines.... I've read more "Plane returns after a pilot has heart attack" stories than IFSDs.


Indeed.

Pilot incapacitation might well be the most common abnormal situation faced by air crew. It doesn't have to be a heart attack or a stroke. More typically it is momentary loss of consciousness, gastric problems or some other form of non-fatal incapacitation.

So yes, we do need two pilots for the foreseeable future.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
parapente
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:00 pm

I see.So it's exactly the same as a train or subway/tube or coach or bus or.....a car,nope sorry mate doesn't wash.If there is one machine capable of driving itself it's a plane.All you need is a second member of staff with basic training (and that's one more person than the others have),
Sure they (pilots/union) will scream and shout.Hey they might even win luddites sometimes do.But do you actually need 2 fully qualified pilots on each flight in 2017-nope.
 
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airmagnac
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:00 am

parapente wrote:
So it's exactly the same as a train or subway/tube or coach or bus or.....a car,nope sorry mate doesn't wash.If there is one machine capable of driving itself it's a plane.All you need is a second member of staff with basic training (and that's one more person than the others have),


With the slight difference that with a surface vehicle, a single braking action is all that needed. Maybe swerving to the side of the road to get out of the way. No driving is necessary, no particular skills or knowledge needed.
An aircraft must be actively flown back to an adequate landing strip, calling on all piloting functions from long-term planning to short-term trajectory, speed and energy control. In the case of airliners, that could be several hours of flight. Sure, it could be carried out by a single pilot with the assistance of much enhanced automation and/or an "assistant operator"....but that means that the costs are merely shifted from high salary and complete training to the design, certification, purchase and maintenance of sophisticated equipment and/or lower slary and less training.
The net costs would most likely go down, but hardly so.

And there is nothing else to be gained on tube-with-wings airliners with the removal of 1 pilot, there will still be a full-sized cockpit and and avionics bay in the tapered nose of the aircraft. So the overall aircraft design will not change...unless the avionics architecture is fundamentally changed to a distributed footprint instead of a centralised bay, and the single pilot moved out of the way, maybe Beluga-style. I have little hope of seeing anything like that anytime soon. And even then, you only get a kind of pay-per-view balcony with a forward view. Very cool for kids even grown-up kids like me), but otherwise not very useful. I doubt airlines could charge so much of a premium for seats there, given the extra airflow noise and feeling of being cramped due to the tapered shape.

Aircraft command automation will come on airliners, but slowly and progressively, as other parts of aircraft design evolve and open opportunities. There is no overwhelming safety/economy/social case for it as there is for cars.
On the other hand, where it will develop for sure is with the upcoming ideas of short-hop urban mobility SVTOL vehicles. Those things are necessarily small, so removing a pilot is a tremendous advanatge. And as they have SVTOL capability and are anyway above hard ground in urban areas, in case of an issue it is merely an issue of detecting a clear ground area nearby and settling down in it. I don't know what wil come out of all the current suggestions, but this is an interesting new development
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Loew
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:50 pm

Thank you all for your interesting and highly valued opinions :)
 
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Faro
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:23 am

It would be interesting to compare total aircraft + engine development costs over successive airliner generations as compared to the efficiency gains they provide. I have the feeling that it has always been the engines that provide the greatest portion of efficiency gains per dollar of development cost.

So I think it will be with engine development that we will see the greatest improvements and breakthroughs, not airframe innovations. Perhaps CMC in non-static parts (due to start testing soon I think, with GE), variable big fan technology, open rotor and fluidic control of internal airflow.

I think this is where the future lies; apart from laminar flow wing technology (BWB has too many issues IMHO...), airframe developments have simply become too expensive compared to the efficiency benefits they bring...


Faro
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airmagnac
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Re: Future of aircraft design

Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:50 pm

Faro wrote:
It would be interesting to compare total aircraft + engine development costs over successive airliner generations as compared to the efficiency gains they provide. I have the feeling that it has always been the engines that provide the greatest portion of efficiency gains per dollar of development cost.

So I think it will be with engine development that we will see the greatest improvements and breakthroughs, not airframe innovations. Perhaps CMC in non-static parts (due to start testing soon I think, with GE), variable big fan technology, open rotor and fluidic control of internal airflow.


Depends what "costs" are of interest :
- if the interest is fuel burn efficiency, then yes, the engines have been the main drivers for the past 20 years.
- if the interest is in recurrent manufacturing costs or costs of periodic heavy maintenance, then airframe structure design is key, although system installation can be a significant pain if not done properly.
- if the interest is in availability (operational reliability aka OR) or in functionalities for the crew and passengers, then overall system design needs to be looked at

While fuel burn remains the essential cost driver for long haul, I think that manufacturing and reliability costs are becoming significant for short-haul single aisle aircraft. When pumping out 60 aircraft a month, any saving really nice. And when the aircraft operates 5 or 6 consecutive legs with maximum utilisation, any technical issue can create chaos.

Faro wrote:
I think this is where the future lies; apart from laminar flow wing technology (BWB has too many issues IMHO...), airframe developments have simply become too expensive compared to the efficiency benefits they bring...

That's already the case, and that's why neither aircraft manufacturer is very keen on launching an all-new development. Easier & cheaper to simply re-engine and get the associated fuel burn gains
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