"Silent Aircraft" Debuts Loudly

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Plans for a quiet, energy-efficient airliner that could be flying in less than 25 years were unveiled Monday afternoon by researchers from Cambridge University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The design uses technology that should be ready to fly by 2030. Besides reducing noise around airports, the airplane would require about 25 percent less fuel. It would use a flying-wing design, eliminate flaps and slats, simplify the landing gear, improve its aerodynamics and mount the engines above the fuselage to screen the noise from the ground. Variable-size jet nozzles would allow for slower jet propulsion during takeoff and climb for low noise, and would be optimized for maximum efficiency during cruise. The research that led to the design was sponsored by the Cambridge-MIT Institute and supported by Rolls-Royce and Boeing. Click here to watch a simulated flyby video. More details about the design are at the BBC Web site.