Stuff We Need: Greener Airplanes That Look Cool

According to Wikipedia:

The Boeing 737 is the best selling jet airliner in history. There are on average 1,250 737s airborne at any given time, with one departing or landing somewhere every five seconds.

And, if you consider that the 737 doesn’t look that different from its narrow body predecessors — the 707 and 727, the latter of which was the best selling passenger jet before the 737 — it should explain why, when most people think of a commercial jet plane, the airplane they see in their heads looks like this:





Then, if you consider that the 707 was first produced in the early 1950s and that jet planes consume enormous amounts of fossil fuels and produce enormous amounts of pollution, we’re WAY overdue for a change.

Enter the MIT Double Bubble, designed to replace the 737:





Inhabitat reports:

Today a team of researchers at MIT unveiled their latest feat of engineering — an airplane that uses 70% less fuel than conventional aircraft. The MIT team was one of six groups — and the only university led team — across the US chosen by NASA to help redesign current aircraft to increase fuel efficiency, lower emissions and allow planes to take off on shorter runways. The team accomplished all of NASA’s set goals with their innovative D-series plane, lovingly referred to as the “double bubble”.

70% reduction in fuel consumption! That is a pretty remarkable leap. But that they also managed to make the Double Bubble look fantastically cool makes this all the more thrilling! (Oh, and take a look at the “hybrid wing body” H-series, which would replace the longer-distance 777 class planes! Simply awesome!)

Now, I could focus on the fact that these planes aren’t expected to be in use until 2035, over 3/4 of a century since the development of the 707, but I’m too excited at the thought of these things flying through the air to go negative.


2 thoughts on “Stuff We Need: Greener Airplanes That Look Cool

  1. I used to live in Washington, and participated in a few Ski-to-Sea races. Great city. I think the development of the Dreamliner from Boeing says a lot about how products are developed. It uses lighter material and does gain some efficiency, but the progress of that plane has been filled with delays and technical problems. This plane looks cool, and I have no doubt that Boeing could push something like this into the market. You often see people speculating on dirgibles as a method of transport; I wonder if that technology will ever become viable for shipment at the very least.

    • Hey there, inafutureage. Thanks for your comment! I did the mountain bike leg in Ski-to-Sea about 10 years ago. It was a lot of fun to be part of that event.

      Dirigibles would be SO cool! I haven’t read much about why they haven’t been more seriously considered, especially, like you say, for cargo, but they would sure be greener, and they come with the added benefit of being much quieter.

      Here in Bellingham, we’re expanding the runway at the airport to accommodate larger planes, which would lead to more air traffic, many in the community are concerned about noise, and this plays out all over the country.

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