Things With Wings

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  • Designer Airliners
    Posted by Graham Warwick 3:46 PM on Jan 23, 2014

    Think today's airliners look a bit boring? A pointy nose here, a raked tip there but otherwise not that much different to a 707? Then take a look at these creactions from the less-constrained minds of some industrial designers.

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    Concept: Charles Bombardier

    First up is the Antares designed by Charles Bombardier, grandson of Joseph-Armande Bombardier -- founder of, you guessed it, Bombardier. Antares is Bombardier the designer's take on the NASA/CalPoly Amelia powered-lift airliner concept with an injection of DNA from Bombardier the manufacturer's CSeries airliner.

    Amelia is a cruise-efficient short take-off and landing design which uses overwing engines and blown wing leading and trailing edges to increase lift for take-off and landing without penalizing the aircraft's cruise performance. Tests of a 1/11th-scale powered model of the Amelia in the National Full-Scale Aerodynamic Complex at NASA Ames in 2012 showed the concept should work.

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    Concept: Charles Bombardier

    Antares has an oversized wing mounted atop the fuselage, with Pratt & Whitney Canada turbofans mounted above the leading edge to provide lift-enhancing upper-surface blowing, like the Boeing YC-14 and NASA QSRA. The aircraft is designed to operate from short, 3,000ft runways, says Bombardier the designer.

    Charles Bombardier's design is firmly grounded in demonstrated technology. We will have to stretch our minds a bit for the next two concepts. The first is Spanish industrial designer Oscar Vinals' AWWA Sky Whale design for a 755-passenger, three-deck, four-engined, hybrid-electric STOL airliner. Oscar has not overly constrained his imagination, shall we say -- and more power to him! 

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    Concept: Oscar Vinals

    The line-up of technologies in the Sky Whale is impressive: carbon-nanotube composites, self-healing skins, fiber-optic cabling, active flow control, virtual-reality windows, solar-electric power. The four hybrid gas-turbine/battery-electric engines (two amidships, two aft) rotate through 45deg for short take-off and landing.

    The upper deck in the Sky Whale is for First Class (as it should be!) and provides "sky views". The middle deck is Business Class and the "comfortable" lower deck Tourist. Solar cells are embedded into the skin to generate power and the wing and engines are designed to break off in a crash to improve survivability, it says here.

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    Concept: Oscar Vinals

    Rounding up our excursion into the world of less-fettered imaginations is Frenchman Daphnis Fournier's "Ecologic Aircraft Design Concept".  No, this is not the starship Enterprise, but a concept for an all-electric aircraft that is part airship, part airliner.

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    Concept: Daphnis Fournier

    Designed to seat between 216 and 324 passengers, the 65m-long aircraft has a lens-shaped helium-filled "aero-balloon" that provides buoyant lift for take-off, aerodynamic lift at high speed in forward flight and also a large area for photovoltaic cells to generate power for the four large-fan electric engine. Need I say more?

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    Concept: Daphnis Fournier

    That's enough flights of fancy for one day, time to get back to Earth...

    Tags: tw99

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