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Thread: Aircraft evolution and passenger design

  1. #1
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    Default Aircraft evolution and passenger design

    Has anybody ever stopped to think why we are still using a design pioneered by the Wright Brothers to transport people in the 21st century?

    Why are we still packing people into a narrow fuselage with one entry/exit door when we can probably have planes that have a completely different design, wider aisles, more entrances and exits and serve the public a lot better?

    Instead, we pack people in like sardines, prevent them from taking personal belongings with them, make them sit strapped in their seats for 1 to 8 hours at a time (or even longer) and make them feel like criminals, subjecting them to intrusive security searches, all because they dared to go on an airplane to visit relatives?

    Wouldn't it be better to have a complete re-design? I notice the military is using planes that look like a giant wing - wouldn't this design allow the fuselage to be placed under the wing similar to the passenger area in the old dirigibles and allow for a wider, more spacious passenger area?

    As a passenger, I have a tendency to ask these questions. I ask these questions to myself when I go through the tedious boarding process where we all have to file on to the plane in a single line and wait while some person near the front holds up the whole line because they have luggage that won't fit in the overhead compartment, and nobody can squeeze past until this problem is solved.

    Then this process is repeated during the ridiculous deplaning exercise where everybody stands up on cue and grabs their luggage from the overhead bins and then has to stand there while people file out of the plane in single file through the single door at the front.

    I really don't expect an answer, and I'll probably just be told to shut up and deal with it, but surely there's got to be a better way.
    BobinEdmonton

  2. #2

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    ^I have often wondered why its not economic or possible to build modern airships, that allow you to basically go on a "cruise" in the air. Just dreaming of course, I suppose if it was viable, someone would do it (not sure).

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobinedmonton View Post
    Has anybody ever stopped to think why we are still using a design pioneered by the Wright Brothers to transport people in the 21st century?

    Why are we still packing people into a narrow fuselage with one entry/exit door when we can probably have planes that have a completely different design, wider aisles, more entrances and exits and serve the public a lot better?

    Instead, we pack people in like sardines, prevent them from taking personal belongings with them, make them sit strapped in their seats for 1 to 8 hours at a time (or even longer) and make them feel like criminals, subjecting them to intrusive security searches, all because they dared to go on an airplane to visit relatives?

    Wouldn't it be better to have a complete re-design? I notice the military is using planes that look like a giant wing - wouldn't this design allow the fuselage to be placed under the wing similar to the passenger area in the old dirigibles and allow for a wider, more spacious passenger area?

    As a passenger, I have a tendency to ask these questions. I ask these questions to myself when I go through the tedious boarding process where we all have to file on to the plane in a single line and wait while some person near the front holds up the whole line because they have luggage that won't fit in the overhead compartment, and nobody can squeeze past until this problem is solved.

    Then this process is repeated during the ridiculous deplaning exercise where everybody stands up on cue and grabs their luggage from the overhead bins and then has to stand there while people file out of the plane in single file through the single door at the front.

    I really don't expect an answer, and I'll probably just be told to shut up and deal with it, but surely there's got to be a better way.
    You can fly in luxury. You can also pay $10,000 to go visit your relatives.
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    the next step for air travel is to become sub-orbital. Once the technology is developed, we are not that far off, LAX-SYD maybe 2 hrs. YVR-HKG about the same.

    Once we are free from mother natures' gravity and friction, the whole game changes.

    Branson sees it with Virgin Galactic

  5. #5

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    ^I'm guessing suborbital comfort, while a great thing for long distance, would suck even more than current planes.

    Last edited by moahunter; 25-03-2012 at 04:03 PM.

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    ^ Possibly, but it wouldn't need to be endured for so long.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobinedmonton View Post
    Has anybody ever stopped to think why we are still using a design pioneered by the Wright Brothers to transport people in the 21st century?

    Why are we still packing people into a narrow fuselage with one entry/exit door when we can probably have planes that have a completely different design, wider aisles, more entrances and exits and serve the public a lot better?

    Instead, we pack people in like sardines, prevent them from taking personal belongings with them, make them sit strapped in their seats for 1 to 8 hours at a time (or even longer) and make them feel like criminals, subjecting them to intrusive security searches, all because they dared to go on an airplane to visit relatives?

    Wouldn't it be better to have a complete re-design? I notice the military is using planes that look like a giant wing - wouldn't this design allow the fuselage to be placed under the wing similar to the passenger area in the old dirigibles and allow for a wider, more spacious passenger area?

    As a passenger, I have a tendency to ask these questions. I ask these questions to myself when I go through the tedious boarding process where we all have to file on to the plane in a single line and wait while some person near the front holds up the whole line because they have luggage that won't fit in the overhead compartment, and nobody can squeeze past until this problem is solved.

    Then this process is repeated during the ridiculous deplaning exercise where everybody stands up on cue and grabs their luggage from the overhead bins and then has to stand there while people file out of the plane in single file through the single door at the front.

    I really don't expect an answer, and I'll probably just be told to shut up and deal with it, but surely there's got to be a better way.
    I'll take a stab at this...

    It's all about 2 things....Physics and money

    Physics
    Aircraft design is based on a series of compromises that include aerodynamics, which effects everything from performance to fuel burn.

    A nice big wide fuselage like you suggest is extremely draggy aerodynamically which increases fuel burn, makes it need longer runways and climb slower as well as making it fly slower at cruise speeds.

    It is also weaker, which mean there needs to be more structure to keep it strong enough to stand cabin pressurization and flight forces. This in short means it will weigh more and the aircraft carry less net payload costing the airline more per km per kg moved.

    The idea of a high wing (as you describe)further increases the drag in most cases as fairing the intersection of wing to fuselage is much more difficult and generally not as effective.

    The combination of what you suggest would be slower, less fuel efficient, higher cost per km with a lower net payload and drive end user costs way up.

    Money
    To build using your suggestions would cost more as making the fuselage wider and more box like forces it to be weaker as does adding more entry/exit points, requires more structure and takes longer to build.

    As noted the net payload would be less meaning less revenue per filght, not a good thing in a cost sensitive industry model.

    It would also be slower and take more fuel increasing overall operating costs.

    Just not practical.

    We are so far past the Wright bros it's scary, in fact there is so little in common between the Wrights designs and those flying today the only thing shared is the physics.

    Airliners have evolved the way they has as driven by technology and cost factors, they are a great compromise of the needs and wants vs $$$$.

    As for loading unloading and security
    Aircraft entry/exit is quickly explained above, the rest are airline and airport decisions other than security which is imposed.

    IMO anyway

    Tom

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    The other thing to keep in mind is that airports are designed for the type/kind of planes we currently have. It would potentially be a massive undertaking for airports around the world to suddenly have to accommodate completely different shapes of airplanes. Not to mention that even if it was practical to go with wing-bodied type airliners, the chances of individuals getting more room are slim to none. The airlines will simply cram as many people in to the larger space as they can, just like they do now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel Petrin View Post
    The other thing to keep in mind is that airports are designed for the type/kind of planes we currently have. It would potentially be a massive undertaking for airports around the world to suddenly have to accommodate completely different shapes of airplanes. Not to mention that even if it was practical to go with wing-bodied type airliners, the chances of individuals getting more room are slim to none. The airlines will simply cram as many people in to the larger space as they can, just like they do now.
    You're very right on both counts.

    Flying Wing and Wing designs carrying cargo and passengers in addition to the fuselage have been played with since the 30s around the world.
    Dornier, Burnoulli, Lockheed, Boeing, Northrop and others.

    Loading and unloading being one of the biggest problems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Hinderks View Post
    Airliners have evolved the way they has as driven by technology and cost factors, they are a great compromise of the needs and wants vs $$$$.
    Keep in mind that the evolution effectively stopped in the 1960's as the volume of existing planes and nearly complete build-out of airport terminals would have made the cost of adding significantly new designs prohibitive. Why just adding a 2nd deck to an airplane used only at the world's largest airports caused billions (!!!) of dollars of renovations. Imagine if someone came up with something truly useful?

    With electronic boarding confirmation now in place, I would like to see experimentation with dual jetways for narrow-bodied jets as part of the airlines' efforts to reduce turn times. Maybe a custom-build jetway extension off the back door of the "primary" jetway, with a rope line down the middle of the jetway ramp? But the paper napkin analysis suggests to me that it would never be worth the airlines' or the airports' money to do it. At best, first-mover might do OK if they paid it off over 30 years. Too bad - standing on a jetway (or in an aisle) is one of the most cattle-like experiences of cattle-class.

    Nice writeups folks.

  11. #11

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    FlyFlyAway
    Keep in mind that the evolution effectively stopped in the 1960's as the volume of existing planes and nearly complete build-out of airport terminals would have made the cost of adding significantly new designs prohibitive. Why just adding a 2nd deck to an airplane used only at the world's largest airports caused billions (!!!) of dollars of renovations. Imagine if someone came up with something truly useful?
    Mostly agree...
    The 747 and the other Jumbos were the last big jump in the early 70s and created "the box" for aircraft docking and other ops.

    (Side note, there have been several different double deck versions of the 747 proposed since it was first introduced in 1969 {if I recall correctly} and I understand a fully engineered version sits waiting as a competitor to the A380 should the need arise)

    You're right that the jump to the Jumbos set off a chain reaction requiring changes to everything from boarding ramps to passenger access ways, baggage handling, terminal entrances and even the car parking and roadways into airports as well as airport hotel capacities.

    "The box" as one of design compromises that the A380 had to fit into and required keeping everything from the wing span to the the aircraft turning radius' for taxing.

    But the hold back as I read now is passenger demand for frequency and price point.
    While Airbus went with capacity on the A380 Boeing has gone with "cost per per passenger mile" on the 787 to allow more frequency...be initeresting to see who wins that one.

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    I think there have been many evolutionary leaps in design...we are a long way from the Dash 80...or Ford tri-motor...

    ...as for revolutionary design....that's another matter for all the great points made above. Building completely new airports would be resource and cost prohibitive...

    ...plus there are some passenger experience issues...test passengers in a BWB (blended wing body) design prototype study cited nausea, anxiety, and other motion issues the further outboard from the centreline you were...especially on roll...

    ...I've always been a fan of the canard/pusher design...that's another topic...

    ...as for new jetways...a set of dual entry jetways in Terminal A (westjet) in Vancouver were implemented...one for the front door and one for the rear...

    ...anecdotally I never really noticed an increase in OTD...and their lack of adoption elsewhere (including in our recent YEG expansion) seems to indicate that any efficiency gains are not offest by the increased cost and operations...the biggest problem is still you and me...arriving late to the gate...pushing limits...not listening to instructions...bringing on tons of carry on...etc.
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    An interesting read on boarding efficiency: http://www.newscientist.com/article/...d-a-plane.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    ^I have often wondered why its not economic or possible to build modern airships, that allow you to basically go on a "cruise" in the air. Just dreaming of course, I suppose if it was viable, someone would do it (not sure).
    It is viable, for cargo, and both Boeing and Lockheed are well into development with commercial versions expected in the not too distant future.

    But in this compromise weather becomes a huge player and will dictate schedules and routes.

    Airships by their nature are trapped in lower altitudes where the weather lives and slow speeds (100km to 130km) so can't really outrun it well.

    Piloting a airship, from all I have read, is more like piloting a ship than flying an airplane making scheduled passenger service difficult.

    But as a cargo carrier very viable negating the need for roads and other infrastructure to remote areas cutting costs and environmental impacts while being much faster than conventional systems.

    One company, bought by Boeing, is out of Calgary IIRC!

    Tom

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    In this month's Canadian Geographic Magazine, "Arctic Airships":

    "Prentice estimates that an airship capable of lifting 50 tonnes of cargo would cost roughly $45 million. He predicts that, based on pent-up demand, the industry could see 10 to 15 years of explosive growth, including the creation of a Canadian manufacturing centre, most likely in Montréal, but possibly in Toronto, Edmonton or Winnipeg, whichever is first to build an enormous hangar."

    http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/mag...c_airships.asp
    www.decl.org

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenSPACE View Post
    In this month's Canadian Geographic Magazine, "Arctic Airships":

    "Prentice estimates that an airship capable of lifting 50 tonnes of cargo would cost roughly $45 million. He predicts that, based on pent-up demand, the industry could see 10 to 15 years of explosive growth, including the creation of a Canadian manufacturing centre, most likely in Montréal, but possibly in Toronto, Edmonton or Winnipeg, whichever is first to build an enormous hangar."

    http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/mag...c_airships.asp
    Every few years this dusts itself off and comes creeping back, If it ever moves further along I wouldwelcome it but not holding my breath. Up Here mag has done at least 3 articles over the years.

  17. #17

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    Thanks for the article Greenspace

    Similar to several others I have been following.

    I do believe that airships will be making a comeback in some specific uses.

    Right tool for some jobs

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Hinderks View Post
    But the hold back as I read now is passenger demand for frequency and price point.
    While Airbus went with capacity on the A380 Boeing has gone with "cost per per passenger mile" on the 787 to allow more frequency...be initeresting to see who wins that one.
    If both "win" - and especially if airlines choose one over the other and both airlines "win" - then perhaps we'll see some more out-of-the-box thinking (bad pun intended). My money is on the '87, but Asia throws all of those calculations off. When you threaten to literally double the global population of flyers, within a fairly small geographical area like East Asia, the math becomes very exciting.

    The next "big win" IMO is coming up with a way to get people off the ground cheaply. "Flying" from near Point A to near Point B is still cheap, regardless of the crying over the cost of fuel or the reduction in government contribution to air space control. It's the boarding, takeoff, landing, and (to a minor extent) disembarking of passengers that remains expensive, and rather inefficient. Major advances in any of those areas would change the playing field. I'll be interested to see if any of the work Qantas is doing pays dividends.

    When it becomes cost-effective to run a 787 from Edmonton to Calgary (presumably every hour, or every other hour split with a smaller plane), you'll know we've made improvements. We are nowhere near that right now, and there's nothing on the drawing board for airport improvements, security improvements, boarding efficiencies (goodness knows the U.S. airlines have all tried), take-off improvements, low-elevation flying efficiencies, or anything else that would make a 787 effective on short hauls.
    Last edited by FlyFlyAway; 26-03-2012 at 06:18 PM.

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  20. #20

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    CBC 's 100 years of flight had a very interesting discussion of the Rotodyne.
    KC

    The Fairey Rotodyne is one of the great almosts of the aviation world.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairey_Rotodyne

    40 passengers downtown to downtown at just shy of 300km per hour in the early 1960s there was great interest.

    But the noise of the rotor tip jets driving the main rotor and a cost cutting industry forced into mergers killed the project in the end.

    But if it had gone on to complete development it could have been the game changer of it's day for short haul city centre to city centre service.

    Faster than even most helicopters today with a much greater payload and no need for a runway it emulates most of what the multi billion dollar US Military Osprey tilt rotor does at a fraction of the complication or price.

    With today's quieter, more efficient turbo props and prop blades maybe it still could be...for flights of 300km to 500km, downtown to downtown and military use.

    I wonder......

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    Meh. I was fully expecting to be traveling in a flying jetcar and living in a colony on Mars by 2012!
    “You have to dream big. If we want to be a little city, we dream small. If we want to be a big city, we dream big, and this is a big idea.” - Mayor Stephen Mandel, 02/22/2012

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    SDM

    by now I was expecting "Transporters" ala Star trek!

    But we will make do with what is attainable.

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonic Death Monkey View Post
    Meh. I was fully expecting to be traveling in a flying jetcar and living in a colony on Mars by 2012!
    Yeah, me too. I'm afraid we're creatures of habit. Just buying an electric car would be more than most of use could handle.

  24. #24

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    Clip-Air reimagines travel with modular mass transit aircraft

    Colin Druce-McFaddenWednesday, June 12, 2013


    "However, EPFL has completed some encouraging studies which prove that their designs would indeed fly. .... So, while there are still plenty of hurdles to clear before we see the ease of travel Clip-Air promises, this mega-project is already inching closer to being part of tomorrow's reality."...

    http://www.dvice.com/2013-6-12/clip-...ansit-aircraft

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    Clip-Air reimagines travel with modular mass transit aircraft

    Colin Druce-McFaddenWednesday, June 12, 2013


    "However, EPFL has completed some encouraging studies which prove that their designs would indeed fly. .... So, while there are still plenty of hurdles to clear before we see the ease of travel Clip-Air promises, this mega-project is already inching closer to being part of tomorrow's reality."...

    http://www.dvice.com/2013-6-12/clip-...ansit-aircraft
    Wow...old really does become new again.

    This concept is one that keeps coming back

    Tried in the 30s by Junkers IIRC, then Fairchild with the Packet which became the C-119 Box Car, Then the Sikorsky Sky Crane did a clip on passenger version....

    But as a couple of posters in the article noted there are hugh aerodynamic problems and the extra weight works against it.

    IN my highly biased personal opinion

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    Just read an interesting article on Boeing's next large aircraft. The 777x will have the largest wingspan of any Boeing ever built. A very good read.
    http://www.flightglobal.com/features...-special/777X/
    Make the RIGHT choice before you take your last breath......

  27. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Hinderks View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    Clip-Air reimagines travel with modular mass transit aircraft

    Colin Druce-McFaddenWednesday, June 12, 2013


    "However, EPFL has completed some encouraging studies which prove that their designs would indeed fly. .... So, while there are still plenty of hurdles to clear before we see the ease of travel Clip-Air promises, this mega-project is already inching closer to being part of tomorrow's reality."...

    http://www.dvice.com/2013-6-12/clip-...ansit-aircraft
    Wow...old really does become new again.

    This concept is one that keeps coming back

    Tried in the 30s by Junkers IIRC, then Fairchild with the Packet which became the C-119 Box Car, Then the Sikorsky Sky Crane did a clip on passenger version....

    But as a couple of posters in the article noted there are hugh aerodynamic problems and the extra weight works against it.

    IN my highly biased personal opinion
    Yes human persistence is a wonderful thing isnt it. A lot of people look at initial failure and think it cant be done while others think, hey, we're now closer to the goal than we would be without those failures. (Too bad schools don't say to kids that fail: hey you're 90% on your way to passing the exam next time.)

    Captain Kirk had his communicator and decades later we have the iPhone.


    Star Trek fantasy beams up modern inventions

    "Star Trek was based on American think tank the Rand Corporation's "projection of things to come", according to the late Jeffery Hunter."...

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times...ern-inventions



    ...and I revive old long dead threads. Some of us are just chronologically impaired.
    Last edited by KC; 22-06-2013 at 10:37 AM.

  28. #28

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    More on the rotodyne...

    Why did the half-plane, half-helicopter not work?
    By Justin Parkinson
    BBC News Magazine
    12 February 2016


    "The idea was ahead of its time," says Michael Oakey, managing editor of The Aviation Historian magazine. "But it never really got going properly. Orders were hard to come by and interest faded." ...

    In 1958, Canadian company Okanagan Helicopters put in an order, but the Rotodyne was...

    "It was a good idea but and if modern materials, such as carbon fibre, had been around to make it lighter, it could have been a fantastic success," and less noisy, ...


    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35521040
    Last edited by KC; 13-02-2016 at 02:08 AM.

  29. #29

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    ^i guese the Osprey is the modern incarnation of that, albeit too expensive for commercial.

  30. #30

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    Too bad, so sad....

    Maybe toy drone makers will invent a solution

    BBC - Future - Why helicopter airliners haven’t happened – yet
    By Stephen Dowling
    27 May 2016


    Airports are expensive things to build. And they require vast amounts of space, enough for all the runways and hangars, terminals and luggage depots, parking and other services needed to keep us in the air.

    ...
    “The noise was indescribable, I’m told. You could be two miles away from it and hardly carry on a conversation over the noise,” says O’Donoghue. “If you have a really noisy machine and you want to take it into the middle of the city, that’s not a very good plan – and this was in an age where people did as they were told a little more.”

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/2016...t-happened-yet
    Last edited by KC; 27-05-2016 at 07:37 PM.

  31. #31

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    'Sci-fi' plane flies with no moving parts - BBC News

    “A team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created the first ever plane to take flight without moving parts.”

    https://www.bbc.com/news/av/technolo...s-successfully



    Assuming paper airplanes, gliders... excluded.
    Last edited by KC; 23-11-2018 at 08:50 PM.

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