Thursday, February 19, 2009

Freeing Up Runways

Pierre Sparaco discusses the lack of runways at major European airports in his article "Runways Are Forever" in the Aviation Week & Space Technology journal of February 2, 2009. Due to cost and environmental concerns, airports in the UK, Germany and elsewhere have moved very slowly to add new runways, leaving the existing ones too crowded today and even more crowded in the future.

The larger commercial airplanes of the future - the Airbus A380 and the larger Boeing craft - will need long runways. They and their somewhat smaller Airbus and Boeing bretheren are long take off and landing aircraft, and such aircraft are the best way to tranport large numbers of air passengers long distances. But, much of the air traffic today consists of smaller airplanes, which still need runways, and therefore compete with the large jets for runway space. These craft, which usually travel less than 1000 miles (1600 km), could and should be replaced by VTOL airplanes. Our Arc Wing VTOL airplane can be scaled up to replace "regional" jets and air taxi services. VTOL craft would not need to use runways at all, allowing the existing ones to be dedicated for large jets.

And, the issue is not just with adding new runways. In some regions - New York, for example - new aiports have been proposed, to alleviate the crowded runways at existing airports. With VTOL regional airplanes and VTOL taxis, new airports will not be as necessary. And, the financial and environmental disagreements over adding a new runway are quite tame with the opposition generated over an entirely new aiport. It would make much more sense to make the best possible use of the runways we have, leaving them for just the large jets. Let's develop VTOL technology. It has so many advantages, and reducing runway overuse is among them.

No comments: