Says Prototype Should Be Ready By 2025
Does your heart skip a
beat whenever you hear the powerful roar of jet engines overhead?
Well, this story probably isn't for you... on the other hand, if
you dream of a future without noise complaints from those living
near airports, then you might be in luck.
According to British media reports, a joint venture between the
Cambridge University and MIT is developing a windowless
wedged-shape airliner, powered by four whisper-quiet engines, with
room for 250 passengers onboard as well as such atypical airliner
facilities as a bar. (Seems we've heard that before, Boeing and
The project, known as the Silent Aircraft Initiative, is
collaborating with today's aircraft manufacturers and airlines to
make the dream a reality. The proposed aircraft would use video
cameras and view screens to allow passengers to look "outside" --
thus adding strength to the structure, as no holes for windows
would be cut into the skin of the craft.
The aircraft's primary innovation, however, would come from its
use of quiet engines specifically designed to minimize noise.
Engineers are looking to wide ducted fans mounted in long pods
above the fuselage, utilizing slower airflow and complete with
mufflers, to reduce noise levels to a fraction of the decibels
produced by current turbofans.
That's not all, though. According to engineer Anurag Agarwel,
the very shape of the aircraft would effectively serve as a
"If you think of light
waves coming out of the forward section of the engines, then these
rays would bounce off the upper surface of the wing and it would
leave a shadow region underneath," Agarwel recently told the
British Association festival of science in Dublin. "The same thing
happens with sound."
The resulting aircraft is expected to be roughly the size of
today's B767, able to travel 4,000 miles between stops. Engineers
claim the airplane's size could be expanded to seat an A380-level
number of passengers, up to 800.
The three-year project has gathered input from such
manufacturers as Boeing and Rolls-Royce, and such airlines as
British Airways. Initial design work is expected to be handed off
in about a year to manufacturers to work on prototype aircraft.
Those prototypes could be flying as soon as 2025.