July 23rd, 2012
Episode 180 of 590 episodes
Gareth Mitchell meets the engineers who will transform the way we fly around the world and finds out what aircraft might look like in the future. Gareth visits the flight gallery at the Science Museum in London with the curator, Dr Andrew Nahum, who shows him how the basic shape of aircraft has hardly changed in 70 years, since the days of the DC3. Andrew Nahum also talks about why Concorde was in service for such a short time. David Caughey, Emeritus Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Cornell University, points out that the blended wing shaped aircraft is more energy efficient. So Gareth asks why we don't see them in service today - the answer is that apart from the innate caution of the airline manufacturers, the passengers would have no windows and it could be hard to evacuate such a craft speedily in an emergency. Gareth talks to Professor Jeff Jupp who worked on the wings of the largest passenger plane, the A380, about the technical challenges. Professor Paul Weaver at Bristol University tells Gareth about his work on making wings that change shape like birds'. And Colin Sirett, Head of Research and Technology at Airbus UK, discusses some ideas for planes of the future, such as see-through fuselages and pods that take passengers from the airport and attach to the aircraft. (Image: The Douglas DC-3)
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