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9 Steps to Cheaper Greener Flight

The launch of the Boeing 787 marks the first commercial jet produced with efficiency specifically in mind. Now, this might not be because Boeing has a crush on Mother Earth, but it's good that airlines are demanding efficiency, even if it is only because fuel prices have skyrocketed.

But the 787 Dreamliner still leaves a lot of room for improvement. Several designs are at various stages of production that could make air travel as efficient, or even more efficient, than automobiles.

We're going to go in order from slightly odd to absolutely ridiculous...

1. Advanced materials

The 787 has this in spades, and we commend Boeing for adopting carbon composites to make it's planes stronger, more efficient, and less polluting. In the future, these composite materials will continue to just try! buying generic levitra get stronger and 120 cod tramadol lighter, and flight will continue to get cleaner and greener.

2. Abolish First Class

Airbus' Super Jumbo A380 is relatively efficient per passenger mile simply because it can fit SO MANY people on it. In three-class configuration, the A380 can hold 555 passengers. But if the entire plane is set up in economy class, as may be the case in some pooorer markets, the plane can hold 853 passengers. Just by removing the remnants of class-society from an airplane we get a 35% increase in efficiency per passenger mile!

3. The Open Rotor

While the A380 and the 787 have much more efficient engines than their predecessors, there remains another jet engine that is even more efficient than "turbo-fan" engines. The Open Rotor engine basically places the blades of the jet engine outside the casing. The engine mixes the efficiency of levitra online sale turbo-propeller engines with the power of jet engines. Two factors have kept this off of airliners in the past. First, they are too large to be mounted under-wing. Second, they are not as powerful as jet engines, and so flight speeds would be lower. However, with rising fuel prices, airlines are expecting to see open-rotor jet engines on planes soon.

4. Tail Mounted Engines

Open Rotor engines cannot be mounted under-wing, but the cialis soft gel can be tail-mounted. Mounting engines on the tail provides the extra benefit of having the wings be entirely clear of everything except "lift generating surfaces." Wing-mounted engines decrease lift and interfere with aerodynamics, so tail mounted engines automatically increase efficiency.

5. Flying Wings

Increasing the amount of "lifting surfaces" on a plane is always a good thing. This is what the Air Force was thinking when they designed the B2 bomber. The plane is, in fact, composed entirely of lifting surfaces. The plane, thus, needs less power to stay aloft, and so can fly much further on a tank of gas. This was important for the viagra legal B2 so it could fly thousands of miles to deliver a payload. It's important for airlines because less fuel means more profit. Unfortunately, flying wings lack the stabilizationof tails, and they have to be extremely large to fit many people in them.

6. Blended Wing Bodies

In order to overcome the shortcomings of flying wings, engineers have developed the "Blended Wing Body." The plane is still largely composed of cialis 100 mg generic lifting surfaces, but with a bulge in the middle to use cialis accommodate passengers, and various sorts of stabilizers to keep them all from losing their lunch. As additional benefit, the engines would be mounted above the plane's body, thus shielding the ground from engine noise.

7. Standing Seats

Airbus was playing around with this idea a while back for less developed markets. You'll never see this happening on American flights, but standing seats could allow for so many more people to be 'stored' in an airplane that prices would plummet and efficiency per passenger mile would skyrocket. That doesn't mean I would ever fly on a 'standing room only' flight. But would make flight nearly as efficient as car travel.

8. Airships

I know, now you KNOW I'm crazy. But, seriously, I think airships deserve a second chance. They do not require any energy to keep them aloft, and while they travel at a fraction of the speed of airplanes, they can move significantly faster than cars, up to 150 mph, without having to follow roads. Depending on their size, a modern airship could be significantly more energy efficient than even a Greyhound bus (currently the most efficient way to travel long distances.) They do have some problems, for example, they have a hard time flying over the generic cialis from china Rocky Mountains, or the Alps, but they more than make up for it with amenities. One planned airship has enough space for 1,000 people to sit comfortably on a lower deck, while an upper deck would sport tennis courts and a movie theater for first-class passengers.

9. Personal Air Vehicles:

While super-jumbo jets get more and more efficient as they get bigger, there is something to be said for tiny airplanes as well. By sacrificing speed and comfort for efficiency, small airplanes could easy get fifty miles the gallon while avoiding traffic and cutting corners "as the crow flies." Indeed, it's possible that personal air travel could be considerably more efficient than personal ground travel!
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Comments (31)Add Comment
Airships rock
written by Chris, July 27, 2007
I know listed airships towards the end, as in they are on the more "crazy" side. But I think they have real potential. Anyone who has had to spend 12 hours cramped in a tiny seat on a long haul flight would jump at the chance to have more space even if the journey took longer - people pay massive amounts to go on cruise ships. There would be a market for these I reckon. I'd be prepared to take longer to get to my destination if it meant a bit more comfort and space. And don't forget all the freight that gets flown around the samples of viagra world as well.
Open Rotors? AIIEE
written by Mike, July 27, 2007
One thing you've left out of the open rotor concept: They're LOUD-- louder than the early, teeth-shattering din of early turbojets. When noise regulations came about, it was a simple affair to generic viagra canada fix "hush-kits" to old turbojets to quiet them down; they were still pretty loud, but you wouldn't go deaf listening to one on takeoff. Open Rotor engines can't be fitted with hush-kits because it's the rotor blades that are generating the noise. A "silencer" for this would involve an engine-length shroud, and then you have nothing more than a fancy ducted fan. The noise issue wouldn't be a problem in areas without noise regulations, but this means that the EU is off limits!
written by William Wilgus, July 27, 2007
Nice ideas; but . . .
1) 853 vs 555 passengers in an A380 will not give a 35% increase in fuel efficiency. You'd get a 35% increase in weight and wow look it levitra next day therefore significantly less than a 35% increase in fuel efficiency.
2) Open rotors are not necessarily less powerful than pure or high-bypass jets. The rotor tips are limited in speed, however: they must remain sub-sonic. That's their speed limiting factor.
3) Tail-mounted engines are not necessarily the more aerodynamically efficient. So-called `blown wings', where the thrust produced by the engine flows over the wind adds lift with no increase in aerodynamic drag.
4) Increasing the amount of lifting surface is not always a good thing. You get more aerodynamic lift, and can therefore lift more weight---but you also get more drag, and that increases the power required.
5) Airships are fine in light winds, but impractical in any other winds.
6) Airplanes are inherently less fuel efficient than cars because of the power that is required to get and keep them aloft---cars having no such power requirement.
Flying Wing Hybrid Airships
written by Van Jones, July 27, 2007
Just wanted to point out that the image of tramadol no presciption in the uk a flying wing is a YB-49 (not a B2 as might be misinterpreted)

Also there is another airship concept that has been floating around (excuse pun). So called hybrid airships incorporate a shape that provides dynamic lift (what keeps standard aircraft up) as well as hydrostatic lift. The upshot is that by loosening the canadian viagra cheap lighter than air requirement, the displaced volume to weight ratio can be reduced. In theory the decreased volume translates as decreased drag and greater airspeed. Another benefit is that ground handling becomes slightly easier in high winds.
Title mistake
written by Van Jones, July 27, 2007
(sorry, there was supposed to be a plus symbol between "Flying Wing" and "Hybrid Airships" in the title of that post, guess non alpha numerics are a no-no)
written by jack, July 27, 2007
airships do rock, and i think they're for the future...even if they don't replace passenger vehicles, they're great for shipping because of their payloads. I'm glad you mentioned them.
B2 Wing
written by Matt, July 27, 2007
The flying wing design was put to canadian pharmacy levitra use in a bomber because it produces a smaller radar signature since it has a smoother surface. The increase of range was just a perk.
written by Ron Hochstetler, July 27, 2007
Using an airship in the same way one would use a jet powered airplane would be like using a helicopter to tow barges up the Mississippi river. Modern technology airships would indeed require less fuel to transport a payload equal in weight to that which can be hauled by a jet transport having the same payload capacity, but you would employ the airship in a different way than you use the airplane. Airships trade speed for fuel efficiency. They have their weather limits just as ALL airplanes and helicopters do, but their ability to make wide route diversions, slow down, or even stop in flight allows them to avoid or even wait for weather conditions to come back within the airship’s operational limits. You can’t stop a 747 over the Rockies while you wait for a storm front to propecia 1mg pass by. The airship is optimal for short distances (400 miles or less), and for non-expedited freight transport where delivery times are not as critical. A large portion of current transport and travel business would fit well within the performance capabilities of modern airships. Adding airships to the mix of transport options would have a positive non-trivial impact on the emissions foot print of the total aviation industry.
written by Erik, July 27, 2007
Hey, hey, hey....let's not get silly. We are not communists! Don't pervert technology to fit the use viagra masses for some Holy Grail of efficiency. 853 seats. How about the have a first class always, because wealth drives technology, not poverty - make some sense? Habitat for Humanity is great but that mentality does not afford for the costs of progress. When we invented carbon fiber, guess where it went first? Sports cars, performance boats, and and golf clubs! Let's allow the 'stupid money' to pay for the trendsetting and afterwards apply it to cost cutting efficiencies to cater to the masses.
A System of Buses in the Sky?
written by Derek C. Wallace, July 27, 2007
Hi Hank! Great article! I actually wrote a piece about bringing back airships, which you can find on Brave New Traveler:
written by orig_club_soda, July 27, 2007
I don't know if First Class seating is a class society. I think labeling that overlooks that common people will buy or obtain first class simply for the comfort. Personally I wouldnt mind a sleeping-tube. I fall asleep on most flights as it is.
written by Scott, July 28, 2007
Imagination, passion and canadian healthcare pharmacy the potential to earn a return on investment are what drives development. I can assure Erik that investors are indifferent to it's great! viagra costs whether the return is earned selling product to the mega rich or the masses, as long as it generates a return. In fact, products with mass appeal tend to have far more profit potential (the internet, radio, TV, etc. all being great examples).
"Inherently less efficient"
written by c!, July 28, 2007
I don't think airplanes are inherently less efficient than cars in terms of their physics, though some ground transit does better. An interesting thread on aviation fuel numbers is here:
Thanks for mentioning airships
written by Airshipworld, July 28, 2007
great article and thanks for pointing out airships. I think airships are a great long misunderstood way for cheaper, greener and more interesting flight. Having the ability to hover silently without making much wind, is an experience that no one as really made, eco tourism comes to mind. But also for freight transport bridging the gap between ship and plane they would offer great opportunities. I blogged about the article on our Airship and Lighter-Than-Air Blog Airshipworld. Check it out at for almost daily updates from the Airship industry. Also keep an eye on us, for the First International Airship Investors Conference in Berlin in 2008 where we want to strengthen the public attention and get investors and manufacturers as well as inventors together.


Andreas G.
written by jack, July 29, 2007
There are quite a number of advantages to airships.
1. They don't need huge runways.
2. When they fail, the failure is less likely to be catastrophic (assuming you're not using hydrogen).
3. Running an airship into the Twin Towers might not have been as effective a weapon for the terrorists on 9/11.
4. They're quiet, so that wildlife and people living next to airports don't have to deal with noise pollution.
5. They're lift capacity surpasses that of standard air transport, and could rival ground-based shipping in cost.

written by Joe, July 29, 2007
While I don't currently have the figures at hand I'm quite sure that 1st class pays for far more than their share of the space and services on a flight. Often economy fares are sold below cost (relative to the services they receive and the space they take on the plane) while the real profit comes from 1st class. So don't resent those in the rows ahead of female levitra you, thank them, they're paying for your flight.

ps. For the record I've never flown first class and probably will never do so, but I appreciate those who are willing to splurge to save me money.
bring on the blimps!
written by makewealthhistory, August 01, 2007
I heard a company in Germany is developing airships for haulage. Container trucks are the standard, but are impractical in many ways - getting in and out of built up urban areas can be a problem, they get caught up in traffic, they're very polluting. Airships could be used for cargo, and the benefits may well balance out the obvious negatives.
That is Cool
written by Jacob, August 08, 2007
I never thought of using Airships before, but i think they could get blown around in the wind more than a plane would.
Solar Airships
written by Ed, August 08, 2007
Airships have a fantastically huge surface area which if combined with some of the recent development in photovoltaic technology could provide a significant chunk of power for the ship in the right conditions.
written by PH, December 23, 2007
You people are ignoring one crucial fact: if there is a storm or bad winds, the airships would just fly AROUND the bad weather. As for going higher, all they would need to do is pressurize the engines and add extra room for the helium to expand, and voila- an airship that can cross the generic viagra Mountains!

A thought on airships
written by Bob D., January 02, 2008
This article has some very interesting ideas worth taking a further look. One thing on airships, though: A little matter regarding lifting gas. I saw the other day on that helium supplies are being pinched, not just for the obvious (gas for balloons), but also for producing HDTV sets, MRI machines in hospitals, and space launch vehicles. Kind of makes you wonder what about the availability of helium for the airships in use now, much less those being envisaged.
Also, on open rotors ideas: yes, they are very noisy. Any military pilot who's flown on or near a Russian Tu-95/142 "Bear" (a turboprop-powered bomber -- the B-52ski, if you will -- and maritime patrol aircraft) will relate to that, and Tu-95s have been in service since the mid-1950s.
written by HARRY GRUBB, January 28, 2008
BWB picture source
written by Harry, March 12, 2008
Where did you get your pics? captions and references would be nice for those curious to read a bit more.
I'm particularly curious about the BWB pic, I've not seen that one before.
Interesting article!
@BWB picture source
written by harry, March 13, 2008
Found it myself:
written by wes, May 12, 2008
What about liquid hydrogen fueled jet engines? Those don't polute and cheap viagra with fast delivery I'm pretty sure they have been done before. See
Evacuated Tube Maglev
written by Chris Hodges, July 21, 2008
Evacuated Tube Maglev trains are the future of high-speed transportation. China and Europe are putting resources toward mass transit in this arena already. Although the infrastructure to build them is demanding, they offer speeds up to 4000mph or higher, produce little pollutents and are more energy efficient than pushing aircraft at hypersonic speeds all day long. The world demands higher speeds. For one, I'm tired of click here how much does levitra cost spending 16hours on a flight from Seattle to Hong Kong!! Think outside the box!! Have a great one.
Airship PAVs, possibly Hybrid?
written by Tobias Holbrook, May 16, 2009
What's wrong with using a Hybrid Airship as a PAV? The airship part (inflatable wings) can lift the structure and fuel etc, with the aerodynamic lift lifting the cargo and passengers. The large surface area would allow lots of lift at low speeds, although drag may prevent them from going really fast. They could, however, deflate for storage.

What's wrong with Hydrogen? If you aren't an idiot you should be safe. We even let idiots drive vehicles with explosive fuel in them, so why not fly airships?
We are not communists!
written by club penguin, May 19, 2009
We are not communists! Don't pervert technology to fit the masses for some Holy Grail of efficiency. 853 seats. How about the have a first class always, because wealth drives technology, not poverty - make some sense?
written by skin moles, January 04, 2011
Are these prototypes? Or have been these ones done some transatlantic flight already?
I think the buying viagra in the santo domingo said proposal of these designers are quite fascinatingly good for the environment. I would like to get some updates on this.
8. Airships
written by husky training, February 18, 2011
I like all the ideas except airships. They are just too big and too slow! Unless they are meant to be like a cruise-ship, i don't see them as a good way to go long distances.
written by husky training, March 20, 2011
Airships are excellent! Let's hope that the wind is going your direction.

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