Don't hold your breath for Boeing to launch this design as a replacement for the 737...All patent images: USPTO
It's from a new US patent (number 7,900,865
) granted on March 8 (and filed in December 2006) for an aircraft configuration that could reduce the engine noise (and infrared radiation) reaching the ground. The configuration mounts the engines above a broad inboard wing section and between canted tails to provide noise shielding.
Shielding both fan and jet noise from engines set so far back necessitates a forward-swept wing and canard foreplane. But the result is a significant reduction in line-of-sight to the engines as the aircraft passes overhead, as this view shows:
Another new patent awarded to Boeing on March 8 (number 7.900,868
), and filed in December 2007, is for a noise-shielding configuration that looks more practical for near-term application, but could still be a bit too adventurous for a 2020-timeframe 737 replacement.
This mounts the engines above inboard wing sections that are extended aftwards to provide shielding of both jet and fan noise. This is reminiscent of the engine-over-wing VFW 614
and, while practical, does put the engines adjacent to the cabin.
Boeing's patent includes other embodiments of this noise shielding configuration, which perhaps serve to show how generic (rather than specific to a planned product) the idea really is. So probably best not to get too excited...