Navigation Links
Should airplanes look like birds?
Date:11/21/2010

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 21, 2010 -- Airplanes do not look much like birds -- unless you were to imagine a really weird bird or a very strange plane -- but should they? This question is exactly what a pair of engineers in California and South Africa inadvertently answered recently when they set about re-thinking the ubiquitous tube-and-wings aircraft architecture from scratch in order to make airplanes more fuel efficient.

The modern airplane design works well, but from a fuel efficiency standpoint, could planes be designed more aerodynamically -- to lower drag and increase lift? Geoffrey Spedding, an engineer at the University of Southern California, and Joachim Huyssen at Northwest University in South Africa, felt they could in theory, but they lacked experimental evidence. Now they have it.

Spedding and Huyssen have made a simple modular aircraft in three configurations: a flying wing alone, then wings plus body, and then wings plus body and a tail. It turns out that they had independently re-designed a bird shape, but without specific reference to anything bird-like. They will present their experimental data with these three designs, today at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in Long Beach, CA.

They started with a configuration where the entire plane is one big wing. Then they added a body designed to minimize drag and, most critically, a small tail, which essentially serves to undo aerodynamic disturbances created by the body. Spedding and Huyssen analyzed the airflows and at various relative angles for the wings, body and tail, searching for ways to achieve greater lift (the better for carrying cargo) and lower drag (for higher fuel efficiency). They made the stipulation that for any given mission, the best plane is the one that generates the least drag.

The flying wings alone provide an ideal (but impractical) baseline, since it's hard to carry people or cargo in such a shape. The presence of a body, unfortunately, immediately lowers the lift and increases the drag. The addition of just the right kind of tail, however, can restore the lift, and reduce the drag, occasionally to nearly wing-only levels.

A few years ago a glider with the modest tail design was successfully test flown, but larger and commercial test prototypes have not yet been tried. Spedding recognizes that the design of real planes is necessarily a compromise of many engineering, economic and psychological constraints. Nevertheless, he believes much can be done to make planes more energy efficient in the future.

"The most important point is that we may be wasting large amounts of fossil fuel by flying in fundamentally sub-optimal aircraft designs," says Spedding. "At the very least, we can show that there exists an alternative design that is aerodynamically superior. One may argue that there is now an imperative to further explore this (and perhaps other) designs that could make a significant difference to our global energy consumption patterns."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Rethinking who should be considered essential during a pandemic flu outbreak
2. Wetlands expert: China should think outside the flooding box with Three Gorges Dam
3. EPA and USDA should create new initiative to better monitor nutrients
4. Freezing kidney cancer: Hot treatment should be new gold standard for destroying small tumors
5. Report updates guidelines on how much weight women should gain during pregnancy
6. Study suggests obese women should not gain weight
7. Scientists should look at their own carbon footprint
8. K-State researchers say after-school programs should promote activity, healthy nutrition
9. Protein handlers should be effective treatment target for cancer and Alzheimers
10. U of I scientist: Public policy should promote family mealtimes
11. Owners should count calories for obese pets, consider several factors for good health
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Should airplanes look like birds?
(Date:3/24/2017)... The Controller General of Immigration from Maldives Mr. Mohamed ... received the prestigious international IAIR Award for the most innovative high security ... ... Maldives Immigration Controller General, ... picture on the right) have received the IAIR award for the "Most ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition of ... Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Vehicle Anti-Theft ... 8.8% over the next decade to reach approximately $14.21 billion by ... and forecasts for all the given segments on global as well ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 21, 2017 Vigilant Solutions , ... law enforcement agencies, announced today the appointment of retired ... of public safety business development. Mr. Sheridan ... experience, including a focus on the aviation transportation sector, ... recent position, Mr. Sheridan served as the Aviation Liaison ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/17/2017)... ... August 17, 2017 , ... Cynvenio Biosystems, Inc., a ... the launch of a new breast cancer monitoring study in partnership with Saint ... the potential for early detection of recurrent breast cancer using LiquidBiopsy and natural ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... ... August 16, 2017 , ... Today, 3Bar Biologics Inc ... $2M in funding from an impressive group of investors, including Rev1 Ventures, Maumee ... With this investment, 3Bar is broadening availability of its groundbreaking offering that uses ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... 15, 2017 , ... Kapstone Medical is proud to announce that ... technology companies and inventors develop and safeguard their latest innovations. The company has ... a portfolio of clients in the United States and around the world. , ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... New York, NY (PRWEB) , ... August 15, 2017 , ... ... for the first time on Immuno-Oncology 360° (IO360°) programming through a series of upcoming ... to be held February 7-9, 2018, at The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: