If a South Carolina engineer and a South Africa researcher have their way, airplanes may soon look like birds. Geoffrey Spedding (University of South Carolina) and Joachim Huyssen (Northwest University of South Africa) are working independently on redesigning commercial aircraft to make them more fuel efficient. The coincidence is that all the three designs look like birds though they never took a bird as a reference.
The body of one aircraft is designed like a giant flying bird, that of the second as a body with two wings, and the third configuration has two wings and a tail.
Spedding and Huyssen analysed the airflows in various configurations and at relative angles for the body, wings and tail. The tail is a critical part of an aircraft’s body that minimises its aerodynamic disturbances. The researchers intend to achieve maximum lift to attain a high load carrying capacity of the aircraft coupled with lower drag for boosting fuel efficiency. Spedding opines that the current designs of commercial airplanes might be causing a major wastage of aviation fuel due to their inefficient aerodynamic design. Better design, he says, could make a significant impact on global energy consumption.