Airbus, the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, recently unveiled its “Bird of Prey” hybridelectric, turboprop aircraft concept at the 2019 Royal International Air Tattoo airshow. While Airbus has no plans to put the “bird” into production, the airplane is based on realistic flight principles and provides insight into future regional aircraft design. The concept airliner includes a blended wing-to-fuselage joint that mirrors the aerodynamic arch of an eagle or falcon. It represents the potential of biomimicry (the design and production of materials, structures and systems inspired by nature). Airbus also hopes the Bird of Prey will inspire young people to pursue a career in the aerospace industry.
The design principle “form follows function” is the foundation of Paperclip Design’s “Peacock” jet interior—a reconfigurable firstclass cabin. In a matter of minutes, crews can transform their accommodations from a single-passenger, three-room luxury suite to premium seating for eight—all without moving parts on or off the airplane. Such innovative seating concepts are spawned by the ever-increasing private jet passenger competition that’s cutting into the airlines’ first-class cabin business. Recently, the 13th Annual International Crystal Cabin Awards took notice and bestowed Paperclip’s Peacock interior with their Visionary Concept award.
The Peacock aircraft interior transforms based on the number of passengers and their pocketbooks. Any of the many configurations can be accomplished in 40 minutes or less.(RENDERINGS: COURTESY OF PAPERCLIP DESIGNS)
Airbus and SAS Scandinavian Airlines are collaborating on a joint research project into the large-scale introduction of hybrid and full electric aircraft. The project will involve a renewable energy supplier to ensure genuine zero CO2 emissions operations. This multidisciplinary approach—from energy to infrastructure—hopes to address the entire aircraft operations ecosystem to better support the aviation industry’s transition to sustainable energy. Air traffic is expected to more than double over the next 20 years, so reducing aviation’s impact on the environment is essential. The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), including Airbus and SAS Scandinavian Airlines, has committed to achieving carbon-neutral growth for the aviation industry from 2020 onward. Airbus is currently testing innovative hybrid propulsion systems, subsystems and components to address long-term efficiency goals for building and operating electric aircraft
In less than two years, the Airbus Vahana went from a conceptual sketch on a napkin to a full-scale flying aircraft. The 1,600-pound, all-electric, single-seat, tilt-wing prototype focuses on advancing self-piloted, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) flight. Vahana uses eight electric motors and a tandem tilt-wing configuration that converts between rotor-borne vertical and wing-borne forward flight. This design enables Vahana to achieve both vertical takeoff and landing. Its cruise speed is 115 mph, with a range of 30 miles for a commute that’s two to four times faster than by automobile. The vehicle is self-piloted, which is enabled by onboard detect-and-avoid systems that can identify both air and ground hazards. ■