WATCH: See the next generation of planes with flapping wing-tips

2019-06-14 12:00 - Gabi Zietsman
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Airbus has unveiled a new scale-model plane called the AlbatrossOne, which could see a change in how we fly in the sky.

Designed by engineers in the UK's Filton - the last big plane innovation from here was the Concorde - the test plane has a 'semi-aeroelastic hinge', which aims to reduce drag and wing weight.

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“While hinged wing-tips are not new – military jets employ them to allow greater storage capacity on aircraft carriers – the Airbus demonstrator is the first aircraft to trial in-flight, freely-flapping wing-tips to relieve the effects of wind gusts and turbulence,” explained Airbus engineer Tom Wilson.

“We drew inspiration from nature – the albatross marine bird locks its wings at the shoulder for long-distance soaring but unlocks them when wind-gusts occur or manoeuvring is required.

“The AlbatrossOne model will explore the benefits of unlockable, freely-flapping wing-tips – accounting for an up to a third of the length of the wing – to react autonomously during in-flight turbulence and lessen the load on the wing at its base, so reducing the need for heavily reinforced wing boxes.”

READ: New interconnected technology on Airbus will let you pre-book overhead bin space and beverages

new model plane

(Photo: Airbus)

Planes of the future

Another design was also unveiled by European airline KLM - they are funding a V-shaped plane design where passengers will be seated in its wings, supposed to reduce fuel consumption.

It will be able to carry 314 passengers and its size will be similar to that of an A350, meaning it will fit in at most airports around the world. 

This plane is expected to hit the market around 2040, although a prototype could be ready later this year.

READ: From Cape Town to Rio in 2 hours: Boeing unveils concept design for hypersonic passenger plane

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