Design for Silent, Eco-Friendly Plane

Oct. 26, 2006
Researchers at MIT and Cambridge University unveiled the design for this silent, environmentally friendly passenger plane at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on Monday.

Julie Kalista
Online Editor

While the noise was the main focus for the researchers, the design has potential to be more fuel-efficient. The plane is designed to carry 215 passengers, is predicted to achieve 124 passenger-miles-per-gallon, almost 25 % more than current aircraft.

Don't hold your breath to see this a reality since the project does not aim to develop an aircraft until 2030. Some of the key features to look for will be a shape that integrates the body and wings into a single flying wing, the elimination of the flaps, or hinged rear sections on each wing, engines embedded in the aircraft with air intakes on top of the plane rather than under each wing, and a variable-size jet nozzle that allows slower jet propulsion during takeoff and landing.

The researchers face some major challenges in turning the design into an aircraft such as the integration of the propulsion system. Since it has the engines embedded in the fuselage, air will travel differently. The particles flow at a lower velocity near the surface of the plane than in the air stream. The other major challenge is the unconventional airframe that must be carefully thought out. With these major challenges no wonder we're looking at about 25 years to see this plane!


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