Reshaped Airplane Wing Makes Flying Silent & Uses 50% Less Fuel

Reshaped Airplane Wing Makes Flying Silent & Uses 50% Less Fuel

New biplane design by MIT and Stanford researchers produces less of a sonic boom and less drag making it more sustainable.

Emma Hutchings
  • 19 march 2012

Qiqi Wang and his colleagues from MIT and Stanford University have designed a new plane with two wings on each side that could produce significantly less drag than a conventional aircraft at supersonic speeds, which means it wouldn’t create a loud sonic boom and it would require less fuel.

The reshaped wing design is a modification of an original biplane concept that German engineer Adolf Busemann created in the 1950s that uses triangular wings connected at the tip to essentially eliminate shock waves at supersonic speeds. The team came up with an optimal shape for each wing by smoothing out the inner surface to create a wider channel for air flow. They also bumped out the top edge of the higher wing and the bottom edge of the lower wing to reduce the drag, which could potentially cut the amount of fuel required to fly the plane by half. The researchers are going to publish their results in the Journal of Aircraft and plan to design a 3D model to account for other factors affecting flight.



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