With air travel’s popularity in question after the holiday season in 2011, many are questioning if the age of airplanes will be making changes to make it more convenient and affordable for flyers. And while we can’t say whether the process will be more convenient for passengers in commercial airliners, NASA has made revelations about its plans for the future of air travel that suggests it will be far more efficient and futuristic than ever before. And the world of 2025 will look quite different in the skies at the very least.
The plan calls for contracts in aircraft to be quite different to anything we have seen on Earth. The first plan calls for planes to be manufactured that can soar at cruising altitudes using only a fraction of the fuel, carrying several times more weight, and operating with far less sound. Though speed is not a major source of contention currently, the aircraft of the future will operate at speeds that focus on cutting costs and providing a more comfortable or at least efficient atmosphere for those traveling, although one of the qualifying criteria was that these new planes do have to operate at 85 percent the speed of sound. And while it will not be breaking any records in the field of aviation, it will certainly be making trips from city to city only a fraction of what they would currently be.
The next fifteen years will no doubt be a very busy time for developers, however, as the new plans outlined in NASA’s press release show planes that make our current aviation technology to look “quaint” by comparison. Planes outlined in this contract will be undertaken by such companies as Lockheed Martin, who have done extensive work on military contracts worldwide and Boeing which we know primarily as the aviation company that developed many passenger planes we use today.
One of the more interesting images released by NASA is from a plane that utilizes two fuselages and has both jets positioned on the inside just beneath the cockpit which is separate from the other two planes. The gargantuan vessel would have the carrying capacity of twice what a normal -say- 747 would today. Having a cockpit separate from the rest of the plane is not only interesting from a design perspective, but would also offer additional security in a time where passengers are expected to give up everything from knitting needles to toothpaste before boarding.
But will these planes ever get off the ground so to speak? Critics of the program have suggested that compelling designs have been offered in the past such as the X-1C. But it should be noted that in the case of the X-1C, other aircraft were also on the X-1 program that did eventually not only get out of the design stage, but off the ground as well both literally and figuratively.
So will we be able to see these futuristic fusion craft in the next fifteen years? While there’s still a long stretch of runway ahead of the project, NASA is banking on a yes.