Wednesday, August 17, 2005

SOARING SILENTLY

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From the BBC

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

The design of all things has changed radically since people began to use computer design programs more and more extensively. It shows up in car, aircraft, architecture, all over the place. The ability to configure physical materials has been greatly extended thanks to the increase in mental powers via computer programs. Bending, twisting, aerodynamism all have made giant leaps thanks to computers. Before, one had to imagine what effects wind or water would have on an object, build a model and then test it in wind tunnels or water tanks.

You still have to do this but the process before this stage has altered greatly. The latest candidate in this mind/computer fusion is the windowless hyper wing craft created by researchers at Cambridge University, England. From the BBC News:
Plans for the world's first completely silent aircraft have been unveiled by Cambridge University engineers.
Environmental campaigners and people living on flight paths have already welcomed the campaign to build the jet.

Now it could become a reality some time in the next decade and Luton Airport is be a partner in the venture.

The main development is a new shape for the aircraft after engineers identified traditional designs caused much of the noise at landing and take-off.The new aircraft is basically a flying wing and would be silent once it left the airport.
Of course, silent planes would be a blessing at busy airports in the middle of great cities. The military already has something like this, the spy jets we use that are designed to appear silently in the sky. These don't carry many or sometimes any humans. The Cambridge design is for ferrying many humans at once.

One time when I flew, years ago, the front of the passenger cabin had a screen which channeled the view the pilots had of take off and landing so we could see it frontally rather than from the side. I really liked that. I don't know if this has been replicated what with airliners turning into cattle cars these days. The recent tragedy of the airliner that froze the passengers to death before crashing shows us the windows that let in the cold aren't such a hot idea in the first place. Using monitors to the outside could digitally make the windows open, each seat can have a screen that allows one to go from camera to camera to see the outside, from below or above or frontally or in the rear. This means no window seats but everyone gets a view, and the best views aren't from the windows, anyway, they are frontally or directly below!

Once, I flew cross country when an eclipse was happening and I could photograph the shadow of the moon as it slid across the land only the photos weren't very good, I would have much rather gotten a digital record from a remote on the bottom of the plane!

If the data could be retained by the passengers on a disk or direct downloads onto a laptop, this could make travel much more interesting for one can review it at home, it would be like being on the Space Shuttle, a great view of the earth from high up. I know, I would do this every trip, absolutely.
Cambridge's engineering department has gone even further to dampen noise and the solution is to mount the engines on top of the aircraft so all the noise would be generated upwards.

The concept design should be finished within six months and it is hoped production might start within the next decade.
I am looking forwards to this one.

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