As someone who grew up watching Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds
, and still vividly remembers the classic first episode in which the ingenious machines of International Rescue enabled the crippled Fireflash airliner to make an emergency landing, I just had to post this:Graphics: USPTO
It's from a new US patent (number 7,871,037
) for an "emergency landing apparatus" granted to Shahin Kassai and Rustom Dinyariyan of Tehran, Iran. The apparatus is basically a vehicle on which an aircraft unable to lower its gear can safely land. The vehicle has jet engines so it can race along the runway under the descending aircraft at 230-260km/h. Not too unlike International Rescue's idea:Video: International Rescue, via YouTube
As described in the patent, when the aircraft reaches the vehicle its wings make contact with rubber restrainers which are connected to gearboxes and act as shock absorbers. Airbags absorb the remaining impact and rubber-covered structures support the wings and forward fuselage. After the vehicle safely stops, the landing gear is lowered and the rubber restrainers act in reverse to move the aircraft back on to the runway.