Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Future of aviation set out in study

A computer generated image of a double decker blended wing aircraft, capable of carrying 650 passengers

Planes travelling at five times the speed of sound and passenger aircraft flying in formation could come to pass in the last part of this century, according to a report.

In an idea called "a sort of Ark Royal for the skies", a system could deliver individual plane passengers at or near their front door.

But action is needed now if the UK is to be at the forefront of future aerospace innovation, said the report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME).

Even in the next 20 years, there were potential sales of 25,000 new aircraft set to be worth more than £2,000 billion, it said.

Looking towards 2075 and beyond, the report talked of "Scramjet" planes able to fly at around five times the speed of sound (around 4,000mph).

It also looked to commercial aircraft flying in a V-shaped formation to save power by taking advantage of the airflow generated by the plane in front and the "aircraft carrier" system in which a large aircraft carries individual units that can be released over a destination and float down to the designated area where the passenger needs to go.

IME chief executive Stephen Tetlow said: "Now is the time for industry and Government to focus on sectors that can help lift the country's economy.

"The UK aerospace sector already employs over 100,000 people around the country and is worth over £29 billion a year to our economy, but we need to take action now to ensure this sector can continue to thrive and grow.

"There is great potential for new UK aerospace technologies, but in order to compete with emerging nations, we need to set up a strategic vision for UK aerospace, establish a new dedicated aerospace research body and restore research and development funding to pre-recession levels."

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