Aircraft Design Innovation continues

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There are people alive who could have been at Kill Devil Hills to see First Flight. There, the Wright Brothers demonstrated that humans could fly, do so under control and use a powerplant that was efficient. That spirit of innovation continues 111 years later pushing the envelope of the Wright Brothers’ parameters.

Past is prologue with the first true hybrid aircraft, the Faradair BEHA (Bio-Electric-Hybrid-Aircraft), because it’s a biplane with electric motors and a bio-diesel engine. There will be solar panels on all flight surfaces and they will efficiently capture that energy. To add to its “greenness” the BEHA has wind-turbines to charge battery both in flight and on the ground. The wing design has both high-lift, low-speed flight capabilities. It adds another layer of safety; if the pilot becomes incapacitated, it can be flown remotely.

The targeted market is the traditional multi-role light aircraft market. Since the BEHA can operate at a range of operations with lower cost overheads and minimal environmental effect, short haul flying (point-to-point), flight schools, emergency services, and GA pilots who are cost sensitive would be their likely buyers. Consistent with the historical premise of the introductory paragraph, the Faradair team says that the de Havilland Dragon Rapide, an iconic British design from the 1930s, was its inspiration.

The second innovative aircraft finds its roots in the Concorde and two enterprises are in the mix to recreate this beautiful, fast, uneconomic and NOISY SST aircraft.

Lockheed Martin and NASA are jointly designing the N+2, an 80-passenger jet capable of cruising at Mach 1.7 (1.7 times the speed of sound). The engineers assert that this bird will be 100 times quieter than the Concorde; if it meets the current FAA noise and sonic boom, then the N+2 could fly transcontinental in half the time.

Airbus and Nevada group Aerion are creating the AS2 a twelve passenger business jet. It will fly at 1,217 mph (which is almost as fast as the Concorde, which flew at 1,350 mph). Unlike the Lockheed/NASA aircraft, this plane does not intend to fly over land.

Neither aircraft is sufficiently advanced in its design to estimate operating costs. As much as the Concorde was loved by its clientele, the experts assert that the plane never broke even and was heavily subsidized by the countries which financed that plane. Do not try to buy a ticket yet; for the AS2 is planned to be delivered in 2022 and the N+2 is scheduled for flying in 2025.

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