I was looking around for something to illustrate a story for Aviation Week & Space Technology on NASA's new Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) program, which it hopes to begin next month. As part of the program, NASA plans to award contracts to study advanced configurations beyond the hybrid wing-body (aka blended wing-body) that has been the recent focus of its research.
I came across some beautiful 3D renderings produced by Kaktus Digital of concepts developed by the Royal Aeronautical Society for the UK's Greener by Design group. The low-noise, low-emissions airliner design concepts were featured in Greener by Design's 2008 annual report, but Kaktus recently posted this stunning video animation of one of the RAeS concepts:
Concept: Royal Aeronautical Society. Video: Kaktus Digital
Key noise- and emissions-reducing technologies featured in the RS-002 concept include shielding the noise from the fuel-efficient open-rotor engines using with the H-shaped tail; the low-drag high-aspect-ratio wing; and the fully flared landing gear. The three-surface configuration - foreplane, wing and tailplane - is also seen as more aerodynamically efficient than a conventional wing and tail.
The RAeS also produced a second concept for Greener by Design: the RS-001, a blended wing-body with open-rotor engines - a combination NASA believes could be about as environmentally responsible as aviation can get:
Concept: Royal Aeronaitical Society. Rendering: Kaktus Digital