How Ground-Breaking Engineering is Changing the Way We Fly

How ground breaking engineering is changing the way we fly

In 1903, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved the first powered and controlled airplane flight, flying at 852 feet for 59 seconds. Their innovative engineering was so ahead of their time that many were reluctant to believe it to be true, and they spent the following years traveling Europe convincing the public of their success.
 
Fast-forward 116 years and the growth of aviation has been exponential. A new traveling record was set in 2017, with more than 4 billion passengers taking to the sky in the same year. With more demand than ever for fast and punctual flights, aircraft engineers are pioneering the next generation of aircraft and the future of air travel, breaking impossible boundaries through the use of innovative technology.
 
To mark Wilbur Wright’s 148th Birthday on the 16th of April, we’ve taken a look at some of the ground-breaking engineering that is set to change aviation as we know it – none of which would have been possible without Wilbur’s sheer grit and determination. Read them below:
 

The Stratolaunch Aircraft

How ground breaking engineering is changing the way we fly - stratolaunch
 
After years of development, the world’s largest aircraft flew for the first time last weekend. The huge jet has 6 engines and a 385-foot wingspan, the same as an American Football pitch. Weighing over 226 tonnes, some of the most mind-blowing features of the plane are it’s 2 cockpits and 26-wheel landing gear.
 
Despite not being used for commercial purposes, we couldn’t ignore the Stratolaunch when looking at aviation developments. The jet has been designed to carry rockets and satellites to 35,000 feet before launching them towards space. This promises to be cheaper than traditional space launches and overcomes frequent weather issues on the ground.
 

Hypersonic Air Travel

How ground breaking engineering is changing the way we fly - hypersonic travel
 
Forget supersonic, aviation engineers are trying to develop jets that are capable of reaching 4.5 times the speed of sound. Patented by Airbus in 2015, hypersonic jets could fly from New York to London in less than 1 hour – 1/3 of the time it took Concorde to complete the same route.
 
Not for the faint-hearted, the plane will take-off vertically using two turbojets and a rocket motor in the rear. As it reaches the speed of sound, the turbojets will shut down leaving only the rocket to propel the plane up to 100,000 feet.
 
The development of this jet will make the world significantly more accessible – It wouldn’t be out of the question to live in London and commute to New York for work!
 

Pilotless Passenger Planes

How ground breaking engineering is changing the way we fly pilotless planes
 
Technology is being developed that would make it possible to fly a plane remotely, and it’s estimated that pilotless planes could be a reality within the next decade.
 
Pilotless planes could save airlines £27 billion, which would ultimately benefit passengers, reducing fares by up to 4% in Europe. Plans for the project include reducing to 1 pilot, before eventually flying with no pilot onboard at all.
 
Automation is not new in aviation and it’s no secret that autopilot plays a huge part in flying commercial jetliners, but 54% of air passengers surveyed said they would not travel on a plane without a pilot on board to intervene.
 

Jobs in Aircraft Engineering

Aviation developments continue to create thousands of jobs in aircraft engineering. ATA is an engineering recruitment specialist and we have a number of opportunities to work on exciting projects in aviation. If you’re an aircraft engineer or looking for a job in aircraft engineering, click below to see our vacancies or upload your CV at the top of this page.
 
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