Blessing in Disguise

There are some unavoidable ills, issues, and constraints in every aircraft design project. The early concept design of the vehicle may be a good time to ask: can we turn some of these to our advantage? The list below is by no means exhaustive (the possibilities are very design-dependent); they are merely examples of the type of question the designer may wish to ask.

  • • Can we use the heat of the exhaust gases of an internal combustion engine to keep the leading edges of the wings or the Pitot static system clear of ice? Can we use its waste heat to maintain a safe fuel temperature in a very cold (e.g., Arctic) operating environment?
  • • At high lift coefficients, most aircraft generate correspondingly large amounts of drag. Is it possible to design the approach and landing of the aircraft to take advantage of pushing this to the limit? For example, is a bird-like perched landing possible? Could the landing run be shortened by designing the aircraft to land in a steep nose-up attitude?
  • • The mass of many structural components is often driven up by severe landing loads. Could a concept be imagined where the landing loads are harnessed to disassemble the aircraft after flight? Unlike Elon Musk’s concept of the RUD - or rapid unscheduled disassembly - this would be a scheduled, premeditated disassembly process, where, for example, some of the kinetic energy of the landing would be dissipated by the unclipping of wings, and so on.
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