Massive Aircraft Designed To Carry Wind Turbine Blades

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A Colorado company is planning to build the world’s largest airplane to allow a major advance in green energy. Radia wants to build a 356-foot-long four-engine jet to carry wind turbine blades. The WindRunner would deliver the 320-foot blades to land-based wind farms. The aircraft will be designed to land on austere landing strips built in the wind farms and the massive blades, which will weigh 80,000 pounds, will be extracted and installed right from the aircraft.

Each flight will carry two blades. The aerial delivery is necessary because the big blades can’t be moved by truck or train. The turbines using the big blades are said to be much more efficient than the current turbines, which use blades that are 100 feet shorter and can barely be accommodated by the highway and railway systems.

As for the plane, it will be loaded through a tilt-up nose and support all that weight on multiple trucks of gear assemblies. It will pick up the blades at manufacturing hubs and fly them at airliner speeds and altitudes to the wind farms with a range of 1200 miles. In terms of cargo volume, it’s seven times bigger than a C-5. It’s shown with four jet engines but the manufacturer and type are not included in the specs.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

53 COMMENTS

  1. Will need to be amphibious, the really big turbines are only used at sea… And how many times will they have to turn to compensate for four engines each burning kerosene at a litre a second?

  2. “Hello, Bruce McCall? This is NatLamp. We’re behind on the April issue. Send over whatever you’ve got.”

    I presume the “jet engines” are just for effect? Surely this thing is electric. And 3D printed as well.

  3. Dirigibles seem vastly more useful. Not *all* of the new companies have gone bankrupt, as far as I can tell.

  4. Certainly, this aircraft will be compatible with SAF, that will be essential for marketing whatever it actually burns, but for easiness and clarity can we just start calling SAF jet fuel Veg A?

  5. Believe it when I see it. And those blades a that length will extend up higher than the FAA’s definition not of just obstruction, but of hazard, greater than 500′. Also what would their tip speed be you think. Or are any that tall already in operation?

  6. massive wind turbines are already “old” technology, and on the way out as new, less expensive and more efficient machines are on the way to replace them.

  7. Why don`t they just build a blade you can fold over 2 or 3 times and ship it on the truck? Thats as practical as building an aircraft with no place to land….The Key Word to this whole story is WINE….Some folks had to much of it.

  8. What a waste. The only reason any intermittent power production (solar & wind) exists is the result of massive government subsidies, tax breaks, RPS quotas, and fear-mongering over the myth of climate crises. See the energy disasters in Denmark and Germany, two countries that have abandoned stable sources of cheap electricity in favor of windmills and solar panels. Read “Fossil Future” by Alex Epstein or “Game Changer” by Harold Hamm, the latter an accomplished aviator who led the US to energy independence prior to Biden’s installation in the WH in 2021.

  9. I was going to ‘wine’ about the typo, but others already have. Of course, my typing is always prefcet.

  10. And just as soon as perpetual motion is finally developed, the plane can be powered electrically by one giant wind turbine generator on the front.

    • My thought exactly! How much engerny would it take to offset building and operating this airplane, building the necessary airstrips, building the blades and all of the infrastructure to make the wind mills, and so on. And what is the payback period; show me the analysis!

      This idea is proof positive that there’s something people are breathing or drinking that’re making them nutty. More vaporware; won’t happen. Beyond that, I served on the C-5A Test Force back in the 70’s. The logistics of dealing with THAT airplane were tremendous. Now these folks want one 7 times larger … are they nuts?

  11. I honestly thought this was an April Fools Day joke accidently released early.

    Almost as if Howard Hughes went woke and transformed the Hercules into a virtue signal.

  12. Airship delivery might be a smarter idea. Could deliver anywhere without a runway and Zeppelin already builds them.

    • AIN: “Boeing has teamed with a Canadian firm to develop a massive commercial heavy-lift airship capable of lifting an 80,000-pound load and carrying it up to 200 miles.”

      Go to: ainonline.com/aviation-news/general-aviation/2008-08-06/boeing-gives-green-light-heavy-lift-airship-project

  13. This is far from an April Fool’s Day joke, RADIA’s WindRunner is impressive, the massive aircraft seems like a fitting idea for a growing $50 bn wind power market. I saw the initial experimental windmills during the early 1980s in the Coachella Valley along the San Gorgonio Pass while flying into and out of the area not ever imagining the proliferation of those things.

    As of February 2024, California has about 15,690 wind turbines in total. Most found in the Tehachapi area of Kern County, with some large projects in Solano, Contra Costa, and Riverside counties (San Gorgonio pass) near Palm Springs. They are ugly and they are everywhere. Considering the market and it’s unleashed growth the WindRunner is an affordable toy. Think positive!

    • I lived in the Antelope Valley beginning in 1972. At that time, the Tehachapi pass was a beautiful place. NOW, everywhere you look there’s a windmill providing a scourge on the hillsides and spoiling the view. Even the local tree huggers are moaning because of that AND that they claim the things are killing birds. A wind mill THIS big would knock down airplanes.

      In WI — near West Bend — and in central IL N of BLoomington are two widespread wind mill fields. UGLY !!

      • Agree. Windmills are a blight on the landscape. I’d rather pay a little more for natural gas generated power and have the hillsides, mountaintops, and canyons returned to their natural beauty.

        Here in the eastern Washington State desert we are fighting a proposed windmill farm in the Horse Heaven Hills. And this is an area with hydroelectric and nuclear! No need for windmills too!

        • At my summer time airport near Oshkosh, the locals voted to allow the local energy company to put up a massive solar collection facility on the free space of the airport. We didn’t want it but we figured that between that and the AIP funding guarantees the City signed, the airport would be safe. STILL … we lamented that what WAS a beautiful view to the south would also be blighted. Now that the facility is mostly built … it is HORRIBLE and HIDEOUS !!

  14. They are applying for permits to build these 630′ things near Elmira, NY (KELM), and that’s not too far from my back yard. They cannot build a special strip in this area unless they level all the hills around here. Besides the waste of money and space, and the hazard to air navigation, it has been shown that there are health hazards that will affect people living near them as well as environmental hazards to plants and wildlife – environmentally friendly? Hardly. And which country is manufacturing them? Three guesses – the one that still uses coal and oil for energy.

    • You bring up another salient point … what’re the people directly impacted by this thing gonna say about the idea? Not only at its home station but in the wind mill fields. If the folks near Jeffco and Boulder, CO hate just GA airplanes … just imagine what they’ll say about this absolutely nutty idea !! The tree huggers have gone TOO FAR this time!! Go drink your koolaid and sit still … will ya !

    • Mr. Flyingbrit, I wonder if you could direct me to the data you have on the health hazards of living near windmills. Not saying I agree or disagree with you, but I am not familiar with any data suggesting any hazards of such location, other than the same issue of living near high voltage power lines. Having worked around large windmills in wind farms, yeah, they are ugly. But, they make very little noise above ambient, and the 1.5 to 3 megawatts of power each one produces is a pittance compared to conventional generators that crank out 600 to 1,200 MW each. As for killing birds, it is ironic that the older, smaller windmills are the ones that kill most birds. They spin much faster, and are often supported on open lattice type towers, which is what usually gets the birds. The big mills that sit on solid tubular towers also turn much slower, making it a lot less of a bird hazard. Having said all that, this airplane idea seems pretty far out there.

      • John Mc, health problems are due not just to sound, but also vibration through ground and air, infrasound, shadow flicker, and resonance frequencies. There also ice throws, shattered blade throws, oil leaks, tower collapses, and motor fires. Now it’s being said that they interfere with Doppler radar such that tornados may be missed and warnings not issued. There are many citizen Facebook groups dedicated to fighting wind turbine installations and educating the public about their impacts. Drilling and installation of their foundations can pollute ground and well water. Vast amounts of water required in mixing huge amounts of concrete for foundations has caused some wells to dry up. Doctors are finding effects on the heart and cardiovascular symptoms. Some ranchers have reported high rates of deformities, miscarriages, and deaths in their animals. This link should be to a post about the effects on the inner ear, cochlea, and balance https://www.facebook.com/share/p/Lm63B33efZpP2sJw/?mibextid=oFDknk
        The group that post was shared to comprises residents of eastern Colorado in an area adjacent to the Front Range that includes a relatively small wind installation from 9 years ago whose roar sounds like background city traffic noise from 8 miles away. Hundreds more industrial wind turbines have been installed east of there in at least 3 more “farms”, with more being added. Ambient noise here is total silence – impossible to imagine coming from more highly populated areas such as Elmira and the northeast. Much of the time, the loudest sounds are Western Meadowlarks singing, or a single Air Force Academy training flight overhead. Adverse effects of industrial wind turbines are real, but still largely ignored or denied. Installations receiving government subsidies and monetary incentives plus the politics of going green may color perception. I thought they were a great idea until learning more about possible adverse effects and considering the resources consumed in construction.

    • Being from Elmira originally, and living near hundreds of industrial wind turbines in Colorado now, I hope that the powers that be in Chemung county don’t allow the monstrosities there. It’s not even very windy there, or didn’t used to be.

  15. From Raf’s corner:

    “El Caballero de la Triste Figura”, Don Quixote, ever the champion of wind-battling foes, surely wouldn’t take kindly to the modern wind farms. Imagine him riding through a field, his rusty armor gleaming, only to screech to a halt.

    “Sancho!” he’d roar, “Behold! A legion of metallic giants has sprouted from the earth, their arms churning the very air itself!”

    Sancho, ever the voice of reason, would reply, “But sir, those are windmills, only…taller and in a cluster. They turn the wind into clean energy!”

    Don Quixote, however, would scoff. “Clean energy? Nonsense! They are clearly villainous contraptions, stealing the wind’s natural fury and turning it into… what did you call it, Sancho?”

    “Electricity, sir,” Sancho sighs, already picturing his master’s disastrous attempt to challenge these new giants.

    End of story.

    • RAF–with a wind field in my back yard, I’m firmly against them–the wind field company has planted trees near our houses to shield them from view (trees don’t grow large enough to shield the turbines unless close-up to the viewer).

      Nonetheless, I salute your humorous clever connection to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza–“tilting at windmills!” (smile–“hand SALUTE!”)

    • I remain against windmills just like Don Quixote but extra credit for the Miguel de Cervantes reference!

  16. And I’m with someone else in those wing just don’t look anywhere big enough to fly that thing. But then I thought that about C124s, and you almost had to shot them down to get it to stop flying.

  17. Why create a special-purpose aircraft capable of carrying just two blades, when every wind turbine I’ve seen has three?

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