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November 2007 edition

New energy efficient ‘flying wing’ could help reduce CO2 emissions

Students at the University of Salford in the UK, plan to flight test a scale model flying wing aircraft next June if they can successfully resolve flight control issues.

They are working on designs for a new aeroplane which they say has the potential to become one of the most energy efficient forms of air travel because it has no fuselage and therefore a smaller area exposed to drag.

In competitions the earlier model, which is remote-controlled, has beaten conventionally designed "tube and wing" aircraft on a number of occasions where speed and endurance are the deciding factors, and the engineers based in the University of Salford's School of Computing, Science and Engineering are now working to make a full-sized version a reality.

While flying wing aircraft are nothing new they have never entered commercial service for safety reasons. Project supervisor Thurai Rahulan explains why designers should revisit this layout for a new airliner.

Since a relentless increase is projected for passenger air traffic over the next few decades, a revolutionary change in airliner design ought to be considered at this stage regardless of the potentially high risks (technical, financial and organisational) associated with new designs. Incredible as it may seem, within the space of four human generations, the passenger air transport industry has progressed from flimsy airships to the current fleet d....

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