Eco-Friendly Planes Designed by MIT-Led Team on the Anvil
The NASA Research Program ‘N+3’ has thrown open a challenge for exploring the potential to develop quieter subsonic commercial planes as well as supersonic commercial aircraft that burn less fuel and pollute less. The team led by MIT are working on developing two models to meet the NASA criteria as well to accommodate the demands created by increased air traffic by 2035 A.D.
NASA’s plans are for designing planes that have fuel-burn reduction, emissions reduction and which can take off from shorter runways. Four teams – one led by MIT, Boeing, GE Aviation and Northrop Grumman work on subsonic designs. AeroAstro faculty & students, ED Greitzer, Principal Investigator, Professor H Nelson Slator, Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation and Pratt & Whitney have jointly developed concepts and technologies to design D series and H series aircrafts that will meet the stringent criteria demanded by NASA.
This will be the “double bubble” series to replace the Boeing 737 class aircraft conceived with reconfiguring the traditional tube and wing structure. Resembling two soap bubbles joined together, a wider structure was created with two side-by-side partial cylinders and engines were moved to the rear of fuselage. Using the BLI (boundary layer ingestion) technique, engines use less fuel. Because it travels 10% slower and the planes have longer and thinner wings, smaller tail, most drawbacks of this design are mitigated somewhat. Planes wider size saves time by allowing quicker loading and unloading.
Twin advantages of D Series:
There are two types of D series on the anvil:
- A high tech version with 70% fuel-burn reduction.
- A traditional aluminum body plane with current jet technology but on double-bubble design.
- Use less fuel by about 50%.
- Very good environmental performance.
- Traditional design will help better integration with existing airport infrastructure and so save money otherwise needed to fit radically different designs.
The 350-passenger 777 class ‘hybrid wing body’ planes will be larger but will be based on the same technology as D Series. A Triangular-shaped hybrid wing body and a wider fuselage result in improved aerodynamics while larger centre creates a forward lift and balances the plane without the need for a tail. Propulsion architectures and technology are under study still awaiting further exploration.
I Phase over:
With first phase of research and design is over, the MIT team is awaiting word about continuing into the second phase of program to meet more of NASA’s objectives. Sanction of additional funds and approval of the designs and technology identified in the first phase will be know in the next few months.
Whether or not the work continues for NASA, the researchers hope to continue to develop these models, testing them and collaborating with manufacturers to make the concepts a reality.