The Brits and the Yanks have teamed up to tackle what seems like an untackleable problem. How do we turn aviation, the loudest form of transportation, into the quietest? The Silent Aircraft Initiative has combined old ideas with some brand new innovations to design an airplane that would be 3000 times quieter than today's passenger jets. And, on top of that, their concept, the SAX-40, is 35% more efficient than anything in the sky today.
The Silent Aircraft Initiative is a joint project between MIT and Cambridge and it represents a collection of old and new innovations in aircraft design. The first, and most obvious design change here is the body. Today's tube shaped aircraft generate lift only with their wings, while every inch of a blended wing craft generates lift. The placement of the engines on top of the plane ensures that the body of the craft blocks the noise from heading towards the ground. Other more minor innovations, such as a smoothed undercarriage and aerodynamic landing gear further contribute to the aircraft's stealthiness.But the most revolutionary additions to the SAX-40 are it's variable exhaust nozzles. Unlike any other aircraft, the SAX-40's exhaust nozzles can be expanded (to allow maximum thrust for take-off,) contracted (for fuel efficient cruising,) and pointed up or down, for optimum use during take off and landing.
Blended wing bodies have been touted for their efficiency before (see TreeHugger's Future Planes Might be "Flying Wings.") but they are, so far, ill-suited for mass production. And while the SAX-40 itself will probably never feel the wind beneath its wings, the leader of the Silent Aircraft Initiative, Professor Ann Dowling, says that the innovations created for it's design should be showing up in commercial aircraft over the next twenty five years.
Via ::BBC News