Get ready for the next generation of passenger airplanes.
NASA has taken the wraps off three concept designs for quiet, energy efficient aircraft that could potentially be ready to fly as soon as 2025, joining these planes of the future (and these). The designs come from Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and The Boeing Company. In the final months of 2010, each of these companies won a contract from NASA to research and test their concepts during 2011.
According to NASA: "[E]ach design has to fly up to 85 percent of the speed of sound; cover a range of approximately 7,000 miles; and carry between 50,000 and 100,000 pounds of payload, either passengers or cargo. For the rest of this year, each team will be exploring, testing, simulating, keeping and discarding innovations and technologies to make their design a winner."
Apparently, NASA is aiming to develop a line of super-planes that larger, faster, quieter, and that burn fuel slower and cleaner than their present counterparts.
Check out the three concept planes (below), then have a look at our slideshow of more incredible planes from the future.
Northrop Grumman Concept
Lockheed Martin Concept
See more incredible photos of planes of the future.
NASA Solar Flapper
The NASA Solar Flapper is an unconventional concept for a plane that would use solar power and flapping of the aircraft's "wings" to propel itself up and forward. One blog writes, "This flight vehicle would integrate airfoil, propulsion, energy production, energy storage, and control into one seamless design with no conventional mechanical moving parts."
Japan Airlines Concept
The above plane is a concept designed for Japan Airlines by industrial designer Luigi Colani.
NASA's 'Puffin' Personal Aircraft
This ambitious personal aircraft design is targeted to reach speeds of over 150mph with a range of around 50 miles. The Puffin would be "hover-capable, electric-powered, super-quiet" and capable of vertical takeoff and landing.
Unveiled in mid-July, the creators of this Airbus concept plane say it could potentially become the standard for air-travel by the year 2050. The plane features ultra long and slim wings, a "U" shaped tail, and a more "intelligent" body to boost performance and efficiency.
The Flying Saucer
This futuristic flying machine looks like it was taken right out of a sci-fi movie. However, the saucer is not just space-age, but eco-friendly too. It was designed by the CleanEra project, led by Etnel Straatsma of Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. CleanEra's aim is to create an environmentally friendly plane that "releases 50 percent less carbon dioxide per passenger-mile than current airliners," LiveScience writes. "The project's "greenliner"â€”depicted in design illustrations as a flying saucerâ€”would also reduce other pollutants and noise, in line with recommendations from the European Aerospace Commission, ACARE."
The Icon A5, called the "ultimate joyride," can take off and land on water or dry land, and when its 32-foot wings are folded, it can fit comfortably into a large garage. Its creator hopes to make "flying small airplanes the luxury motor sport of the 21st century," and designed the Icon A5, which has an interior similar to that of a sports car, to have "sex appeal." The plane is priced at around $140,000.
The Terrafugia Transition, dubbed the "world's first flying car," recently received the go-ahead from the FAA. It can fly at a speed of 115 MPH, has a 460-mile range, and doubles as a car when its wings are folded up. The Transition will set you back close to $200,000 when it finally hits the market.
The MIT No Noise Aircraft
The SAX-40 is a joint project between engineers at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Cambridge University in England. This aircraft seats 215 passengers and emits just 63 decibels during takeoff, compared to a whopping 150 decibels by a conventional airliner. The goal, notes Popular Science, is to build an aircraft that is "inaudible outside the airport."
The Aeroscraft ML866 boasts a vast 5,000 square feet of interior room for the ultimate luxury experience. This "flying yacht" reaches a top speed of 120 knots and has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities.
MIT Concept Plane
A team of engineers at MIT have been awarded a $2 million contract by NASA to design a quieter and more efficient aircraft that could be released as soon as 2030. According to Dvice, "this squashed wide-body design is the team's preliminary effort."