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Trends in aircraft design

The rise of air travel started when people took to the skies in hot air balloons. And over two centuries later, air travel has become the world’s fastest way of going to and from places across the globe.

Aircraft designs have a come a long way since then and continue to improve as more advanced technologies are being developed.

History of aviation
It was in the 1780s when man first displayed his ingenuity in air travel through ballooning and aviation.

Several flights using hot air balloon were first demonstrated in 1783, which launched ballooning as a major rage in Europe in the late 18th century.

Hot air balloons evolved into airships with internal combustion engines after a century.

Later on in the 19th century, Sir George Cayley, who was first called the “father of the aeroplane,” designed the first modern heavier-than-air craft with fixed wings and a separate launching device. The aircraft with fixed wings would later become the layout basis of modern airplanes we know of today.

In the 20th century, Samuel Pierpont Langley worked on an unpiloted, engine-driven heavier-than-air craft called the Aerodrome. After a series of successful launches, he worked on a full-scale man-carrying version of the Aerodrome, which flew twice in 1901 and again in 1903.

Also in the 1900s, the Wright brothers also attempted to design a flyer that can be controlled by its pilot. After several versions and accidents, the attempts became resounding successes when they were able to fully control the aircraft by as much as 39 minutes and bring back the pilot and plane back to the starting point safely and without damage.

From this point on, the development of airplanes quickly advanced, wherein they were used in the military. In fact, the period between World War I and II saw significant advancement in aviation with airshows and passenger transport.

It was after World War II when commercial aviation grew rapidly, carrying passengers between continents and over oceans in less time compared to water travel.

The Future of Aircraft Design
With various demands and requirements in aviation, aircraft engineers are facing a great challenge of developing new aircraft designs and technologies, wherein they have to consider the impact to the environment and the ticket costs of flying passengers.

There may be no major changes in how the plane looks, but the modifications will come more in the form of technology being used to fly the aircraft.

Dr. Cesare Hall, a turbomachinery aerodynamics expert in the University of Cambridge in the UK, said they are working on the Centreline project that modernizes the wing design of a plane for low noise and high efficiency.

The project will use the same tube wing design, but changes will be introduced to the rear of the aircraft by adding a propulsor that will give the plane an additional thrust.

Future by Airbus was formed to research on commercial aircraft’s possible look, material, function and onboard offerings up to 2050.

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is also undertaking various research programs in a bid to promote advanced, highly environmentally efficient commercial aircraft by 2035.

One of NASA’s noteworthy research covers the promotion of a new generation of environmentally friendly supersonic commercial aircraft.

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