Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Greener Passenger Planes on the Horizon

Airplanes are well known for their negative environmental impacts, in terms of noise, nitrogen oxide emissions and carbon dumping.

Industry is currently thought to be the world’s biggest contributor to global warming but The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, based in England, estimates that by 2050, emissions from planes are expected to be in close competition.

With increasing global dependence on air travel, we need to either reduce aircraft travel or change it, the latter being the preferable choice for most travellers, and so researchers at MIT (Nasa’s Mission Integration Team) are designing a completely new type of ‘green’’ airplane.
The “double bubble” series are designed for domestic flights and can take up to 180 passengers. They are planned to replace the most popular jetliner in the world, the Boeing 737. They will use two partial cylinders placed side by side, creating a wider structure and placed further back than Boeing 737 engines, with the overall aim of reducing drag on the aircraft, thus requiring less fuel.
MIT have high expectations of the new aircrafts, saying that they will be quieter, burn 70% less fuel, emit 75% less nitrogen oxides and take off from shorter runways. Less fuel consumption could also mean that flight prices could be lowered by up to 25%.

Sounds fantastic but don’t hold your breath. MIT is still awaiting confirmation from NASA on whether its design has advanced to the next phase of the space agency's program and it is likely to be a couple decades before any of these planes make it onto the runway. NASA's goal is that “double bubble” will take off by 2035.

Lucy's article was also posted by Responsible Travel

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