I Told Orville and I Told Wilbur…

“…that thing will never fly.”

Behold the Sky Whale:

I’m not sure how this thing found its way onto a “serious” news organization’s website, but apparently CNN is easily fooled. Which we already knew. Just remember this is an artistic concept that would be a better fit for Deviant Art instead of a major news outlet. But io9 is a whole other kettle of fish…frankly I expected more informed commentary from their readers, or at least not trashing of commenters who do in fact know what they’re talking about.

If you haven’t noticed, this is exactly what I was cranked up about in my last post: people with actual expertise offering informed criticism are ignored (if not outright ridiculed) by those who don’t have a freaking clue. Because they’re a bunch of armchair quarterbacks or unimaginative dullards or have been brainwashed by The Man, or something.

But, but–look at the pretty pictures! Clearly, aerodynamicists and engineers aren’t capable of such out-of-the-box concepts because they’re constrained by the shackles of their corporate overlords. Or maybe physics.



Need for Speed

If you follow aeronautics, this is a significant development. Plus the pictures are really cool.

Economics aside, noise is the single biggest impediment to building a new supersonic airliner. The reason you never saw Concorde zipping across our skies is that nobody wants sonic booms trailing across their country on a regular basis (especially Boeing, since they didn’t have their own SST ready at the time). And yeah, that’s a lot of windows to replace in any case. But if these guys have really been able to shrink the noise footprint and solve the pressure drag problems, then we could see a lot more progress on the SST front. But even given this breakthrough, I suspect that it makes a lot more sense as a small business jet than a higher-capacity airliner.

The next biggest impediment is air traffic management: really fast bizjets like the Citation X (.92 Mach, almost sonic) still have to downshift into the same arrival traffic as pokey old 737s. For really busy areas (think NY or SoCal), this tends to happen a lot farther away from the destination than most people realize – several hundred miles in some cases. It’d be like driving an Indy racer full-blast down the interstate, then having to merge into the off ramp to sit in traffic behind a minivan for the last hour of your trip. Ick.

Regardless, I guarantee you there will be plenty of bizjet owners clamoring for one of these if they ever make it into production. I’ll need sell a lot more of these to pick up one of my own, though.


Airbus A380 cutaway. Credit: FlightGlobal

A quick note for you text-addicts who don’t recognize aviation-speak: “ATB” means “air turn-back” and “AOG” is “airplane on ground”, otherwise known as “we broke it”.

So, a couple of the super-jumbo A380s had some problems recently. Yawn.

No one will ever mistake me for an Airbus apologist – if it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going – but in all fairness to the Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys™, these incidents are not the big deals they’re being made out to be. And both are contingencies that we prepare and train pilots for (the wing cracks are another story entirely). Continue reading “ATB! OMG! AOG! WTF? LOL…”