back to article Supersonic silent biplane COMING SOON ...ish

Aviation experts are coming up with a 60-year-old solution to a modern problem - how to create a cheap, fuel-efficient and quiet supersonic aeroplane. This is their breakthrough solution: US Navy biplane in flight in December 1934 US Navy biplane in flight in December 1934 Researchers from MIT and Stanford have shown via …

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".. there may be a boom in the field in the coming years"

I thought they were trying to eliminated that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ".. there may be a boom in the field in the coming years"

NOPE just like Concord, fuel costs will be so high then that they would not be economically viable, and that is a very sad fact.

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Devil

Re: ".. there may be a boom in the field in the coming years"

Quite obviously they have not. There are a few supersonic aircraft which have canards with a position and size which is a biplane allright.

Saab Viggen: http://www.military-today.com/aircraft/saab_37_viggen.jpg is a good example.

It makes as much racket as any other supersonic.

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Re: ".. there may be a boom in the field in the coming years"

The XB-70 preceded the Viggen by a few years, though the canard on the '70 was smaller in relation to the main wing than was the case for the Viggen.

The aircraft in the picture reminded me of the "flying sub" from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

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The Japanese are working on a moveable wing biplane? An X-Wing????

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The real problem with Busemann's biplane:

It does not generate any lift. A shockwave is created each time the angle of the wing increases. An antishockwave is created each time the angle decreases. Busemann's idea was to make each wing create an antishockwave at the point where a shockwave from the other hits. This makes the wings mirror images of each other - if one creates positive lift then the other creates negative lift.

If they have come up with a geometry that has no sonic boom but still creates lift then I would be really keen to see it.

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Pint

Re: The real problem with Busemann's biplane:

a high-lift wing profile isn't needed at high speeds if you have enough surface area & enough stability to land without stalling. Laminar flow has been used even as far back as the WWII P-51 Mustang. Of course this biplane isn't truly laminar flow, but similar in the concept to reduce drag. Sounds promising.

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The problem with laminar flow is

It's a bugger to maintain, even a layer of rain drops on the wing can turn the laminar flow back to a turbulent one on a laminar wing. Boscombe Down did laminar flow tests during WW2 and they had to climb up above the layer you'd find insects in to avoid the results being ruined by them changing the surface when they hit it.

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I'm wondering if it's time for a return of the "ring wing"

Yes it *really* is a ring around the whole fuselage.

Yes it does generate lift (but I'm still not quite sure how).

It looks mad but had some fairly serious work done on it throughout the 50s and 60s.

In reality a 1/2 circle (which has also been tested) looked a lot more practical, especially when working out where to put the landing gear.

As for swing wings historically this has had a *very* big pucker factor. The military have always had the option to eject and crash if the wings locked in a position that you could not land in.

Modern flight control systems are pretty reliable but I'm guessing for that sort of application it's got to be in instrument landing system levels of reliability. IE *parts of the system fail but it never fails to execute across *all* aircraft (of that type) in operation ever.

This is still pretty tough to achieve.

Clever idea but we'll see if it covers *all* the problems that such an aircraft has to solve, starting with *adequate* lift across the whole speed/altitude envelope.

Thumbs up for effort.

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Re: I'm wondering if it's time for a return of the "ring wing"

You could always combine it with the Thrust SSC and Bloodhound designs so it could land at supersonic speed.

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Re: I'm wondering if it's time for a return of the "ring wing"

Ah yes, the ring wing. It was further developed into the SSZ concept aka the Super Sonic Zeppelin. Fit a shockwave-trapping ring wing around a lighter-than-air dirigible which provides the lift and it can go supersonic without those discomfiting bangy noises. Drag is someone else's problem.

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Re: I'm wondering if it's time for a return of the "ring wing"

Dyson probably already patented such a circular wing...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm wondering if it's time for a return of the "ring wing"

This wing of yours squire...got rounded corners has it?

Apfel already patented that one many years ago,

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Thumb Up

Re: I'm wondering if it's time for a return of the "ring wing"

"Ah yes, the ring wing. It was further developed into the SSZ concept aka the Super Sonic Zeppelin. Fit a shockwave-trapping ring wing around a lighter-than-air dirigible which provides the lift and it can go supersonic without those discomfiting bangy noises. Drag is someone else's problem."

This is hands down one of the maddest things I've ever heard of (although the idea of a nuclear powered dirigible was described in the 1950s and the 2 technologies would be quite a good fit for each other).

However speed has *always* been the Achilles heel of airships. I don't think I've heard of any one hitting better than 80 mph. Very fast for a ship but you've only got cargo plane carrying capacity. LTA eliminates the landing gear problem at a stroke.

But an SSZ would change *everything* putting them back in *real* competition with aircraft.. Sadly the only thing I've seen is the Ben Bova story on the subject.

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Re: I'm wondering if it's time for a return of the "ring wing"

Been reading Analog magazine?

Ben Bova published the story there, Jan/Feb 1995...

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Joke

Re: I'm wondering if it's time for a return of the "ring wing"

the iPfly?

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Of course being covered with linen it would be low carbon, and you could get juicy hi-tech subsidies _and_ agriculture subsidies when you base it in Ireland.

(Disclaimer: I'm from NZ, and we plan to get rich on the ludicrously thick sheepskin coats the passengers will have to wear)

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What we need is a plane that has one wing at low speeds and then two wings at ... OMGTHE X-WING FIGHTER!!!

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TRT
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I don't know...

that concept drawing looks awfully Romulan to me.

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Re: I don't know...

It's probably wrong that my first thought when I read "Romulan" was Big Bang Theory and Tweety Bird...

:S

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Trollface

The problem is the flux capacitor...

....I don't know why people keep looking elsewhere...it is always the damn flux capacitor. Unless it is the hiper-drive mechanism of course.....

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Re: The problem is the flux capacitor...

The problem was NEVER the flux capacitor, it was how to get the 1.21 Gigawatts of power to feed the damn thing! Or getting the train up to 88 mph.

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Happy

And for extra geek points....

Is the USN biplane a Vought O2U or O3U? I think the O3U-1 was tested at Anacosta.

In the meantime, most airlines will simply ask if having biplane wings means they can squeeze in more seats in cattle class, otherwise they won't be interested.

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Unhappy

After my last long haul flight I vowed never to do it again unless I can afford first class, which in my case is not likely. So it's the banana boat for me!

My neighbour, who was only a couple of years older than me, just died from DVT after a trip to L.A.

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Pint

We don't need no stinking wings!

Seriously, if the vehicle has achieved supersonic flight, then fold away the subsonic wings and use the vector angle of the massive thrust at the rear, combined with a wee canard wing at the front and some lift body in the middle. One does not need huge wings at Mach 2.

@MM. OMG, dead due to Deep Vein Thrombosis? Sad. Because I'm not large, I've always found the seats on trans-Pacific flights (e.g. 15h 45m) to be adequately roomy. I've felt sorry for the huge blokes, and their squashed seat mates.

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Is it Strictly True

...that the shockwave has to be strictly proportional to the lift? If not, if one can design wings that make more annoying shockwave for the same amount of lift, then one can cancel the shockwave without also cancelling all the lift.

But then one will get only a little lift for a lot of drag, which is why this is a challenging thing to design.

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Seriously, is the supersonic bang that much of a problem for people? I lived under Concorde's flight path for my entire childhood and the Air France Concorde regularly passed over Cornwall at supersonic speeds (it wasn't meant to, but that's the French for you). Thump-THUMP, the windows might shake and that was it.

Most of the scares about the boom came from our ever sporting friends in America who suddenly became very concerned about the noise and pollution from SSTs right about the time they realised they couldn't get their own plane to fly.

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Bronze badge

Hmm, that;s an interesting question. Compared with the sonic distraction of a helicopter flying 600ft up, the odd sonic boom would be a gentle relief, so long as the supersonic aircraft was maybe 40,000 ft up:)

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Anonymous Coward

I remember the early Concorde tests, when they flew up & down the Irish sea. We used to go out in the garden (east coast of N. Ireland) to listen for the boom. As you say, it was just a brief double-thump.

In later years there was noisier fun actually at Heathrow, when the mid-morning Belfast flight landed a few minutes before the Concorde to JFK took off. When walking across the apron into the terminal, everyone used to stop to watch (and listen to) that beautiful bird head down the runway, with the ground shaking under us. Used to really piss off the ground staff who saw it every day and wanted us to keep moving :)

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That'll be one up vote from a 'Merkin

Of course, I consider the Concord hysteria the precursor to the current carbon hysteria. I seem to recall some ozone hysteria too, just to mix things up a bit.

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One other thing, I'd wager the sonic boom off a Concord

was probably a good bit less disruptive than the noise I endured living under a common BWI flight path. At the time I lived there it the planes had to effectively execute a hard banking turn as soon as they lifted off the runway because it pointed the wrong way. It seems they didn't want the jets flying over the ocean on take off. So you constantly heard screaming jet engines laboring under that load.

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Megaphone

A quick boom...

or 30-45 seconds of subsonic noise so loud that all speaking indoors has to stop?

The latter was my experience of concord!

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Happy

Prior art

I can't comment on its aerodynamic properties, but that concept drawing looks remarkably like the Flying Sub from 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea.'

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supersonic jets were not allowed to fly over land....

Having grown up in south wales, swansea to be exact, in the 70's where at 9:15 every night concorde would pass overhead - america bound, having left england P1 would have the hammer down and we'd all be treated to one hell of a bang.

didnt bother us tho! not after the jaguars whizzing about at a couple of hundred feet all day.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: supersonic jets were not allowed to fly over land....

Piss Off Biggles.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: supersonic jets were not allowed to fly over land....

Oh pullease, if you don't understand it, google it, it's a reference to a farmer in Wales who got upset about the RAF using his barn as a waypoint on training exercises and painted that on the roof of the barn.

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I just had this mental image of a supersonic Swordfish hurtling towards Bismarck

Which would be "interesting" for the crew in their open cockpit.

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old news

Ha - this is old news - the Wright brothers were flying supersonic from Kitty hawk - there's clear evidence on film.

http://www.tvspots.tv/video/31656/GENERAL-ELECTRIC--ORVILLE-AND-WILBUR

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