|Jan. 14th, 2012 03:57 pm From Yet Another Dream: Double Fuselage Passenger Aircraft|
Last night – probably thanks in part to forgetting to take my anti-migrane medicine – I had a fairly vivid dream that I can remember at least a couple of images from, and a tiny bit of what was going on.
In the dream I was somehow at end of an airport runway behind a line of planes ready for take off. For some reason there were two planes in front of me and I wanted to take a picture of them as they started to lift off.
What was memorable was that the plane in front I had identified as an Airbus 380. But instead of having a two-level cabin, it was in a double fuselage configuration. Behind it was a much smaller four-engine prop plane I thought was a World War II era bomber.
Later as I was more awake, my brain started thinking about the possibility of a double fuselage plane. Obviously, they can be made – the plane that will cary Starship One into the upper atmosphere is, more or less, a double fuselage plane. Of course on the climb, Starship One will occupy most of the space between the two main fuselages, which may or may not be key to how it is airworthy. After all, I am not an aeronautical engineer nor do I play one on the internet.
But for a large passenger aircraft, I see two issues with a double fuselage design. The first is aeronautical: what would the shape of the connection section be? Would it be an airfoil to help provide lift, probably necessitating some control surfaces. Or can it be of any low-drag shape.
The second issue is how would such an aircraft load and unload passengers? Unless the connection could be made of a size and shape to allow people to comfortably move between the halves, passengers would require a separate path to each. This would require several things no modern airport current could support. First, it would require a jetway that could load into the starboard side of a plane rather than the traditional port side loading. Next, the airport would also require some way of making it clear which gate passengers needed to pass through in order to board their half of the plane.
I can think of a couple of other consequences of this kind of design, were it possible. This would produce at least two cabins with complete physical separation – again, unless the connection was capable of being so passengers could move between the halves of the plane. This might not actually require any major differences in the way an airline would have to staff the plane, but might since crew in one half could not provide assistance or backup for crew in the other half.
On the other hand, unless both fuselages required a cockpit, there would be some opportunity for nearly front facing premium seating. I don’t know if this would be that much more of an opportunity than already exists in 747 and A380 aircraft on the level that does not include the cockpit – I’m pretty sure that the first rows of seats on the lower level of a 747 are below the cockpit, and I suspect that the A380 is similar.
Back to the dream, as I was writing this up, I realized that the scene I dreamed would never happen in real life unless the tower goofed up dangerously. It is rare, if it ever occurs, to have another plane sitting behind the plane that is about to start its takeoff roll. And I doubt that a small plane – and even the largest WWII bombers are fairly small compared to a jumbo jet – would ever be put in that place. And, again without any real expertise, I suspect that the turbulence following a double fuselage jumbo jet would be too much for any WWII era bomber to follow very close behind anyway, so the picture I wanted to get would never happen.
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