The Future of Air Travel is Green

19Oct10

These days most people try to  keep their carbon footprints as small as possible by cutting down on car journeys and turning off unneeded appliances. Unfortunately international air travel has gained a reputation for being one of the less ecological friendly modes of transport. This may cross our mind when think about booking a flight to Australia or anywhere else far afield.  This might become less of a concern however are many airplane manufacturers are already doing good work into the production of greener airplanes.

Cutting edge NASA supported research projects into aviation may soon make it possible to create more ecologically friendly hybrid airliners in the not-so-distant future. Discussion into hybrid airliner technology was quite possibly the biggest topic of the recent annual Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture air show, at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Green airplane

The most basic explanation of how the jets would utilize new technology, would be that classic jet turbine engines would be used for taking off and climbing, then electric engines would be used for cruising and maintaining altitude. So far Boeing is the most pro active researcher into these ideas, seeing them as the way forward. They are already creating concept planes such as the SUGAR Volt which utilizes both electric and turbine engines. The Sugar Volt (which sound like an energy drink to me) may end up being as large as a 737 although it would need to be significantly lighter in order to cut fuel usage.

NASA are attempting to encourage the development of hybrid airliners by funding the Green Flight Challenge. Up for grabs is an impressive $1.5 million grant for the first team to fly a personal aircraft at 100 mph, cover a 200-mile distance, and achieve a per passenger mpg equivalent of 200. Boeing has already been making noise which its green approach to its jets, with the cutting edge Boeing 787 Dreamliner that has been called the world’s most fuel-efficient airliner.

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