The Shape of Planes to Come?

by Mark R

Take a gander at this oddly wide airplane with the three engines in back. This could be the method of air travel by the year 2030.

NASA has recently started a little pet project, cooperating with engineers from MIT to create planes that are more fuel-efficient, quieter, not to mention environmentally friendly.

All I can say is “It’s About Time!” I’ve been hearing so much about how our cars need to become hybrids or electric, and they need to be cleaner for Mother Earth, but very little has been said about those jumbo jets. I mean, they are one of the least-fuel efficient vehicles that we have, and they are as loud as…well, a jetplane.

In other words, I am all for anything that will improve air travel technology, especially when it comes to saving the planet. Let’s hope that this “wide load” look will also make aisles wider, so you don’t have to compete with that inconvenient drink cart when you want to use the bathroom.

Who knows when this plane will roll off the assembly lines at Boeing or other major aeronautical corporation, but if this is the concept plane of 2030, this is quite a while. So let’s ask Coolest Gadget readers, how would you improve airplane travel? Leave an answer in the Comment box.


15 reviews or comments

Neagle Says: November 11, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Improving airline travel needs to be taken on a wider outlook of overall continental travel. Passenger rail service should be designed to compliment air service by developing routs between major cities such as Albuquerque and Denver. Short flights are profit off-sets to major airlines and short flights cause a lot of unnecessary traffic in routs better served by rail. America needs to re-think Amtrak top down.

Randy Says: November 11, 2008 at 6:47 pm

1. My air travel experiences would be improved if the loading and unloading of passengers was expedited–perhaps by using more than one door.

2. More eco+ could be achieved by by having a more coordinated transportation structure. long-distance air hubs should link quickly and easily to short-distance humb (VTOL aircraft, rail, subway, ???) to help free people from the 2-ton personal chariot paradigm so deeply entrenched in the public. (I find it frustrating that these same companies that expend their efforts to thwart upstart companies producing eficient vehicles are now seeking our tax dollars to finance their monopolimania.)

Ed Says: November 12, 2008 at 7:33 am

I’m 6’6″ tall and I would like is more leg room.

Dan Says: November 13, 2008 at 4:03 pm

Still, this is the next step we need to see in the greening of air travel in and of itself. I don’t think the A380 offers enough of an advantage over the 747 (even the 8 variant) to be considered satisfactory. The 787 (and A350) are steps to break down the more egregious wastes of the hub-and-spoke system with greener point-to-point travel; now what we need to do is find a way to get 1500 people from LA to Beijing or London efficiently. I don’t think they’ll find a way to make current jumbo airframes half again as efficient.

Boeing is doing studies now on military-oriented giant flying wings; let’s hope market pressure might bring these airframes into the commercial sphere quickly. I saw a Discovery Channel special on future aircraft of this design; the seating resembled a large theatre or church, each row having maybe six aisles, and all outside viewing provided by video screens. The Window Seat will eventually become an anachronism.

Fate Says: April 12, 2009 at 8:48 am

what i want? a view of the outside itself. at first i was gonna say ‘top down’ like those fancy-looking cars.

but i’ve seen that movie–anywyas, obviously the air resistance would be hard to bear. so how’s about glass?

thinking again; won’t be pleasant to see a bird ram dead into what was supposedly air..then what about that um, two way mirror thing? you can look out and uh..the birds can look at themselves. netherless, i just wanted to look at the sky while in flight is all.

i like how it’s fuel effecient and quiet..though silence might be a bit unerving, i could just turn on some music.

but why is it so wide? just to accomadate the the engines at the back?

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