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'Sideways' aircraft for supersonic speed?

Sept. 5, 2012 at 12:10 AM   |   Comments

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MIAMI, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- An aircraft that could pivot 90 degrees in midair after takeoff to reach supersonic speeds has been given $100,000 in NASA funding, its research team says.

Ge-Cheng Zha, an aerospace engineer at the University of Miami, with colleagues from Florida State University, has proposed the supersonic, bidirectional flying wing aircraft, essentially two flying wings on top of one another at a 90-degree angle that would take off facing one way for subsonic flight and then rotate another way for supersonic flight.

Jet engines on top of the aircraft would rotate to remain facing forward as the plane turned sideways to transition between inflight modes, InnovationNewsDaily reported.

Its designers suggest the aircraft could attain supersonic speeds without producing a sonic boom, the Achilles heel that limited where the supersonic Concorde passenger jet could fly over populated land masses.

"I am hoping to develop an environmentally friendly and economically viable airplane for supersonic civil transport in the next 20 to 30 years," Zha said. "Imagine flying from New York to Tokyo in 4 hours instead of 15 hours."

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