How should the future transport aircraft look like? – A video lecture by Prof. Dr. Ali Elham, Chair of Aircraft Conceptual Design, Institute of Aircraft Design and Lightweight Structures,
Technische Universität Braunschweig
To answer this question, we have to look at current transport aircraft and ask why they look like this? A tube as fuselage, two wings almost in the middle, two or four engines mounted under the wings, and two horizontal and one vertical tail at the end.
What I can tell you is that there is no way to prove that this configuration is the best possible configuration for transport aircraft. Why? Because it is not! We design and build them like this because we are used to it for decades! We know how to do it and we know it will work safely. So, there was no need to bother and change! Well… at least by now.
But now, there is a need to change the configuration of transport aircraft. Why? Because we are in a great need for reducing the emissions of aviation, and we almost reached the maximum potential of emission reduction with the current configuration. If we need more reduction, we have to think of other configurations. So far, there are coupled of different configurations suggested by aircraft designers. Which one is the best? We do not know! Each has its own pros and cons! Even if we can compare all of them and find the best one, it does not mean that there is no other configuration can be found, which is better.
So, let’s solve it once and for all …. is there an optimum configuration that we can find? Or let me ask it differently: we want to transport a given amount of payload over a given amount of distance using the available technologies. How should the aircraft look like to minimize the energy consumption?
In this video, I am going to tell you our path towards finding the optimum configuration for flying vehicles!