Dec 18, 2011

A 200 mile high club among visions of future flying machines

How about a zero G bridal suite in earth orbit,  or an inter-city tilt rotor aircraft with room for thousands of commuters? These are among the latest visions of future flying mach

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

The City Plane concept, over present day Hamburg

How about a zero G bridal suite in earth orbit,  or an inter-city tilt rotor aircraft with room for thousands of commuters? These are among the latest visions of future flying machines by the Yelken Octuri design studio, based in Airbus City, also known as Toulouse.

Octuri design concepts extending beyond airliners have been shown in various public exhibitions in recent years, and received wide acclaim in architectural and transport industry literature.

However the current collection of concepts include one that might excite Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket rides venture, which should become a reality later this decade, except that this is for orbital honeymoons, somewhat further into the future.

What is unsubtly liveried as the HorneyMoon space lifter would serve the naked ambitions of  the 200 mile high club, and that needs at least a few earth orbits to be fully enjoyed, not five minutes of zero G, however exciting this will be atop a Virgin fire cracker.

The HorneyMoon space lifter, a single stage runway-to-orbit rocketliner,  would release a set of pods which become, in this mission, zero G bridal suites, which drop back from space in a 5 G fireball re-entry for a splash down for retrieval from the ocean by a ship using a crane.  It has everything a honeymoon couple could want, apart from the inside-a-gigantic-burning- canon-ball-passion-killer bit at the end.

Liftoff for HorneyMoon rocket riders, graphic courtesy Octuri public website
The HorneyMoon bridal capsules in orbit: Graphic courtesy Octuri

Other concepts, which can be explored on this website, include an incredible yet perhaps one day feasible flying yacht. After the end of World War II there were some privately owned Catalina flying boats that were rigged to allow sails to be raised for navigating slowly around lakes. In the Octuri vision the wings become the sails. Aeronautical engineers would nominate a book full of reasons why this will not work today, however, in a world where energy can be downloaded from a spectrum unknown to physics today, and used to drive rotors and lift structures made of materials not known today, it could work.

As could the smaller insect like sailing light aircraft.

The Octuri website flying yacht sailing, and below, flying, all images copyright Yelken Octuri

Such engine-energy technological breakthroughs would also be crucial to Octuri’s vision of a City Plane, a multi level flying machine which appears have the capacity of a spectator stand at a sports stadium, or at least several thousand people seated if not strap hanging commuter style, and which would dock into slots atop high towers, rather than use conventional arrival and departure slots at conventional airports.

The towers would be located right among the future high rise aggregations of city centres, thus eliminating conventional airport transfers, even though the backdrop to these graphics is Hamburg, which can be reached by the S-bahn from the airport in about 25 minutes for around  €2.80 each way, Sydney eat your heart out!

The engines on the City Plane are tilt-rotors, and lots of them, which is very wise on the part of the designer given the known problems of engine failures in large twin engined tilt rotors  including the Osprey, a somewhat lethal machine in such situations.  Again, this design looks promising if the energy doesn’t come from fuel tanks, but wirelessly, from the ether.

Don’t mock wireless usable (non-destructive) energy. Thirty years ago no-one outside esoteric research laboratories envisaged the energy charged spectrums that fill supposedly empty space. It doesn’t exist for us today, but limitless energy fills the unseen environment, waiting to be understood and tamed, and applied to transports of delight exceeding even the concepts seen in Octuri’s visionary flying machines.

The insect like sailing light aircraft envisaged by Yelken Octuri
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4 thoughts on “A 200 mile high club among visions of future flying machines

  1. gdt

    “Thirty years ago no-one outside esoteric research laboratories envisaged the energy charged spectrums that fill supposedly empty space.” Was there no press coverage of Penzias’ and Wilson’s 1978 Nobel Prize for their experimental verification of cosmic background radiation in 1965?

    And I certainly will mock it. If it’s a practical source of energy, where’s an expression in nature of that? It seems odd to be surrounded by a vast field of “usable energy” without that effecting the orbits of celestial bodies when even the small forces of relativity can be seen.

    What we see here is the work of a “designer”, what is needed to make these practical is the work of an “engineer”. There are thousands of “design school” projects every years which would fail due to basic engineering, and these designs are no better. You can see this best when designers attempt items with no room for engineering error, such as a bicycle or yacht.

    Look at the “sailing light aircraft” and ask what stops it falling over when the wind blows. A keel? Well hang on, it’s also an aircraft, where weight and shape counts. So a key to the whole design is an engineering item which the drawings don’t explain.

    Also, what’s holding those masts up? A tiny little hinge on a float. That’s the same hinge that is going to hold the wings in place in flight. On a real aircraft the connection of the wings is the strongest part of the plane, on this aircraft the connection of the wings is unlikely to bear the weight of the wing itself whilst on the ground, god help the occupants once it is loaded.

    The propeller is an accident waiting to happen. You’ve got to have a structural member to support the tail. You’ve got to have some sort of bearing system so the prop can rotate, and you need to get power into the prop. This isn’t going to be pretty, and it’s not going to have the reliability needed (eg, the bearings are going to have to be large). Also, that prop is going to approach the water as the aircraft goes nose-up for take off. Get the angle of attack too high and the prop will strike the water.

  2. Ben Sandilands


    Couldn’t agree more with most of your comments.

    The concepts are in part a triumph of form over functionality, or in other words, they look fantastic but belong to a parallel planet where the laws of engineering are more ‘forgiving.’

    But not all of them. Some of them might well work with breakthroughs in materials and energy sources, while not looking as ‘artistic’. We only have to compare the Gotham City Batman comic book architecture of the 787 drawings of 2004 to find a partial analogy, since the jet now looks more ordinary but some of the materials technology didn’t deliver, at least so far. Russian airliner design be our guide. Appearance definitely triumphed over reality in the TU-104, as it did in the Vickers VC-10 come to think of it. (And it was a terrific flight experience as a passenger.)

    Small powerful electrical motors in the actual core of the engines on some of these concepts might do the trick, and Boeing certainly hopes so in its SUGAR-Volt hybrid electric airliner design for the NASA N+3 studies. As does Airbus parent EADS in its all electric, rear mounted wide diameter open rotar monocoque composite design, also for the 2030s.

    Note that the City Plane must be relying on monocoque design, which removes all the load bearing functions to the casing of the airliner to manage among other things the incompatibility of significantly non-spherical bodies with an aggressive high frequency and short flight pressurization cycle.

    I grew up in a world where manned space flight was a nonsense, and manned moon flight was a scientific and engineering impossibility, and then went through the 60s in which suddenly almost everyone believed that by 2000 fusion reaction power generation would be not only tamed, but so efficient nobody would need to pay a power bill again.

    Color me sceptical therefore about wild claims, yet full of admiration for wonderful design notions, and unwilling to accept ‘never’ or ‘impossible’ when it comes to what good engineering and scientific research may deliver. Or put another way, all over the shop, but with a weakness for a good looking idea.

  3. LongTimeObserver

    There are concepts, and there are real-world implementations that pre-date them.

    The 1950 Landesaire Yacht conversion of a Consolidated PBY-5A:



    Hugh Hefner only wishes he had it this good…

  4. Geoff

    I’m with you Ben! Engineers are good at making concepts work.
    The dreamers think up the concepts.
    What about Arthur Clarke’s Space Elevator, we are still waiting for the carbon nanotube technology to make it work, but Arthur had never heard of a carbon nanotube!

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