The Five Most Popular Aviation Blogs. By Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Sunday, February 05, 2012

 

Hi All,

As the numbers continue to soar on this blog and a new group of readers join us, I thought it would be worthwhile to re-visit five of the most popular aviation blogs thus far. Here they are.

1. Golden Days.

2. So You Want to be a Pilot?

3. The Fatal Stall.

4. A Glimpse of the 'Red Tails'.

5. The Big Bang Theory.......of aircraft engines.

For those of you new to this aviation blog, welcome aboard! And for those that are continuing to come back, thanks for your support and please enjoy the growing list of original content.

Cheers

Owen

Nearly There. An Aviation Blog Image by Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

 

A QANTAS 747-400 makes a morning arrival at Sydney Airport.

Outside the Square. The future of aviation? An Aviation Blog By Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Thursday, December 15, 2011

By the year 2050, the world’s population will have grown from 7 billion people to 9 billion. In terms of the aerospace industry, this represents a potentially huge growth in passenger numbers for a world that is becoming increasingly lower on fuel reserves, more unable to accommodate sprawling airports and ever-vigilant of the environmental impact of industry. What is equally alarming is that 2050 is closer to 2011 than man’s first steps on the moon. With this in mind and with a keen eye for the marketplace, Airbus has just released their vision for air transport midway through this century. And it’s eye-catching to say the least.

Armed with global survey figures that showed that passengers are seeking a ‘greener’ in-flight experience that allows greater access to the new digital world, they set about imagining their aircraft of the future. An aircraft that not only boasts enhanced efficiency, but an aircraft that makes the flight an ‘experience’ in its own right, rather than a mode of travel that merely provides a means to an end.

Firstly, they addressed the overwhelming issue of future energy sources. Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of man-made CO2 emissions of which 80% is generated on flights of over 1,500km. With a goal of halving aviation’s CO2 output by 2050, Airbus envisages the increasing use of ‘biofuels’, such that they will make up 30% of jet fuels by 2030. By utilising algae, woodchip and general waste, new energy sources are being pursued, while utilising salt water plants may offer a feasible option to the use of great land masses. However, there are other means by which energy may be saved. The ‘Fuel Cell’ combines Hydrogen with Oxygen through cold combustion to generate electricity, resulting in water, heat and oxygen depleted air as the only by-products. While this may not be a means to generate engine power, it can serve to provide the energy for engine starting, cabin lighting, air-conditioning, and the waste water can be recycled for use on board. The use of solar power is also being researched as a means of providing power to ancillary services. Another futuristic concept is ‘energy harvesting’, by which body heat is ‘harvested’ from the passenger seats and used to power such systems as cabin lighting.

Improving the efficiency of aircraft and their engines, as well as more productive use of the airspace, all offer potential contributions to a cleaner atmosphere. It has been said that reducing each flight time by one minute would shave off 4.8 million tonnes of CO2 released into the air by aviation. It is in everyone’s interest to seek out initiatives that result in quicker flights, shorter routes and consequently less fuel burn. Airbus looks to mimic nature to find some of these solutions through ‘ecological’ design. We have already seen aircraft winglets that resemble the upturned tips of a bird’s span result in increased efficiency of the wing, but Airbus sees the idea going further. Like the new generation of competitive swim-suits, perhaps the features of the shark’s skin can enhance the surface of future aeroplanes. The owls serrated feathers may offer a means to noise reduction and the stiffening and relaxing of the membranes in a butterfly’s wings may create a whole new idea of what wing design entails.

Bionic structures may copy the skeletal frame of the bird in place of the existing metal framework of ribs, spars and longerons. Lighter in weight and more sparsely distributed, the futuristic fuselage frame facilitates not only larger windows, but the potential for 360 degree views. For Airbus have even suggested that the new skin of aeroplanes be transparent; made from a biopolymer membrane. The world above and below could be viewed and enjoyed in all their unobstructed majesty, making the journey as exciting as the destination. One school of thought is that fares could even be free, funded by on-board casinos. Enhancing the flight experience is central to the theme for Airbus and they perceive that the cruise liners of tomorrow will be found in the skies rather than on the seas. Offering pools, spas and even golf ranges, these soaring entertainment centres will have passengers not wanting to disembark.

On the topic of disembarking, the face of joining and leaving an aeroplane may well change in the future. Crowded airports may be replaced by time-efficient boarding platforms that allow a mass transfer of passengers in the same manner afforded by the rail systems of today.  Even more modular is the concept of ‘boarding pods’. In much the same way that freight in aircraft’s holds has become ‘containerised’, passengers will be pre-loaded into pods that are ready to attach to the aeroplane as soon as the pod of passengers leaving the flight have been transferred.

For all the eye-catching changes, the grass roots engineering concepts Airbus foresees are equally bold. To this end they have conceived a ‘Concept Aeroplane’ that showcases the many features, while recognising that they may well not feature on a lone design. In addition to a see-through skin, there are engines that are smoothly blended and almost concealed into the aircraft’s form.  Traditional tailplanes are replaced by a sweeping V-Tail, like a pair of blended winglets at the aeroplane’s rear. There will be ultra-long, slim wings that are designed to maximise lift and minimise induced drag, unencumbered by under-slung engines and composite materials used throughout the airframe to slash the aeroplanes weight and permit flexibility in the design shape. Within the cabin, new materials will permit the seats to ‘morph’ their shape, harvest energy and even clean themselves.

As Airbus sees it, the look, feel and function of tomorrow’s aeroplanes will be vastly different to the airliners of today. This world of dreams, concepts and ongoing change is nothing new and has in fact characterised aviation since man first took flight. As we browse the internet and contact the world through our iPhones, it is little wonder that Airbus’s brave new world of air travel is held in tangible wonder for aviation has proven time and again that virtually anything is possible. And if these concepts are being broadcast freely around the world, it makes one wonder about the even more fantastic, but  commercially sensitive, ideas that are being developed by designers around the world. Without doubt, for aviation to forge new frontiers, the answers cannot lie in the solutions of the past, they must continue to come from outside the square.

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