Following the universal success of the 787 Dreamliner, Boeing is ready to revolutionise the air travel yet again. Boeing was recently awarded a patent for the helicopter-aeroplane hybrid.
The Vertical TakeOff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft is a tilt-rotor plane that could carry up to 100 passengers. The regular helicopter features like vertical lift and hover have been integrated with the range and speed offered by a conventional passenger plane to create the VTOL. This invention implies that one day, small airports may be used by the commercial commuters.
Boeing has been working on the military VTOL airliners, like the V-22 Osprey, etc., since a long time; yet, the new tilt-rotor commercial aeroplane isn’t suitable for civilian use. Previous models developed by the Boeing, including the AugustWestland BA609, could only carry up to nine passengers.
Another aspect of this problem is that the military tilt rotors are not suitable or practical for civilian use.
One look at the V-22 reveals that the actual source of the problem is that an aircraft like Osprey has a high-wing configuration implying that the plane must have a heavier design with reinforcements to support the engines and also to protect the fuselage in any unfortunate event. Maintenance and fueling are also made more difficult in this design. Given the vertical rotor design, the aeroplane cannot even float if it lands on water. The high-wind design also implies that the undercarriage must be fitted in the fuselage. Given the fact that our airports are designed got low-winged airliners, thus, loading, taxiing, and unloading of these aircraft will also pose difficulties.
According to the patent filed by the company, Boeing is planning to build a 100 passenger regional aircraft. The tilt-rotor passenger aircraft by Boeing has low wings set toward the bottom of the fuselage. Thus, due to the conventional placement of the wings, the VTOL can forgo special crash reinforcement, and can even float if it lands on water. The aircraft can carry fuel in the wing tanks and can also take off from and land on any conventional airfield. The fixed engines design of the VTOL also enhances the payload capacity.
As of yet, there is no indication that Boeing plans to send any variants of the patented design to production. However, if it were to realise, VTOL may emerge as a regional passenger aircraft that could even be operated from small airfields.