21 part (known as laminar flow); Carskaden specializes in engines and propulsion. Crouch sees a lot of airplanes entering service in the decades to come but no new airports to support them. To offset future traffic jams, a push could be made to reduce “Imagine taking the design of an airplane to a factorysized 3-D printer by which employees literally print the entire airplane in that spot, roll it out and fly it away.” or break up wake turbulence, enabling jets to trail closer to one another and get on the ground quicker, he said. Future aircraft wings might become significantly thinner with longer wingspans and large regions of laminar flow for improved efficiency, he said. Carskaden experienced firsthand one of the most radical changes in the direction of the modern aviation world—the move from most jetliners having three and four engines to just two. Greater airspeed might be the next defining moment, he believes, even before a hypersonic aircraft is created. More speed, however, means less fuel efficiency and corresponding cost. The challenge will be finding ways to neutralize or reverse that, especially when carbon-neutral fuels, or so-called biofuels, are considered to address environmental concerns, Carskaden said. But there are plenty of incentives to get to places faster, he added. “Because speed costs money, how fast do you want to go?” Carskaden asked hypothetically. “We will keep trying to seek out ways to connect the parts of the globe that today kind of test the limits of human endurance riding on an airplane. It’s amazing that we can actually connect those parts of the world in 16 or 18 hours, but it’s a long time to sit in a cabin.” Taking a glimpse of the distant future, Carskaden next raised a possibility featured in the fictional TV series Star Trek— transporter devices that instantly move people from one place to another. “We could all be trumped by transporter technology in 100 years,” he said playfully. Regardless of the technology that results, Carskaden remains convinced Boeing will play a big part, adding, “We could walk into something magical.” Tom Grandine, an engineering specialist TOM GRANDINE changing on the exterior. The airplane no longer has a painted livery. Instead, the surface is controlled by a lighting system, perhaps an active matrix organic light-emitting diode display, or AMOLED, offering the airline’s identifying logo and colors—and maybe an advertisement. “Picture a high-definition TV or smartphone screen, but one that is flexible and wraps around the aircraft—or spacecraft,” Seebergh said. “You can do livery that way, but you can change it. You can reprogram it. Maybe there’s a market for advertising, where advertisers pay for two weeks on the tail. There’s a lot of flexibility to change the look. That would be exciting.” It also might have military applications in platform camouflage. Seebergh also has a futuristic vision for the airplane interior: a self-cleaning cabin, featuring new technology that kills all surface bacteria, consequently alleviating passenger concerns over germ transmission from fellow travelers in close quarters. That may not be all that far away. Boeing engineers and designers have already built a prototype lavatory that uses ultraviolet light to kill 99.99 percent of pathogens, thus sanitizing all the lavatory surfaces. Jeff Crouch and Jay Carskaden are engineers and Senior Technical Fellows who work in the Seattle area. Crouch deals with the smooth, uninterrupted flow of air over a wing contour or other airplane 1932 P-26 Peashooter fighter The P-26 Peashooter is the U.S. Army Air Corps’ first production all-metal monoplane fighter.
Frontiers July 2016 Issue
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