Friday, January 29, 2016

NASA to Fund "Sideways" Flying

2016 has already been generous to NASA, with congressional approval of a 10 percent increase in its overall budget. While this infusion of $1.6 billion could be used for many ideas both existing and new, many experts are hoping the agency spends a portion of it on a concept that could eventually revolutionize air travel as we know it: the bidirectional plane.
Rendering of Futuristic Bidirectional Plane
Although the concept has been around forever, 2012 marks the year when actual capital began fueling the idea for real-world use. Ge-Cheng Zha, an aerospace engineer at the University of Miami, introduced a flying wing design back then that resembled a ninja star, and would turn 90 degrees after reaching optimal altitude. Having used its broad wings to achieve the right amount of lift needed for take-off, the smaller wings enable the plane to achieve supersonic speeds that would cut a trip from New York to Tokyo down to four hours from 15.

Zha's proposal received over $100,000 in grant research money from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. A successful demonstration of feasibility in various tests such as wind tunnel performance and mathematic models will open up an additional $500,000. With NASA's additional budget funding, one can only hope even more money is devoted to this specific concept.

A bidirectional plane not only solves the eternal aeronautic quandary of achieving speed without sacrificing stability, but it will revolutionize both military and private air travel, cutting distance time exponentially.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

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