Future Ecology Designed

Sustainable design theory manifested in products, infrastructure, and graphic representation. A utopian glimpse of a future New Zealand where environmental considerations are of tantamount importance, and society is designed to accommodate the native ecosystem.

Air Travel?

At Worldchanging, an interesting overview of some new battery technologies on the horizon. Fascinating reading.

I have been in infatuated with aircraft since before I could talk- My grandfather navigated De Havilland Mosquitos in WWII, and I have grown up surrounded by all things aviatory. I even made a flying model glider at the age of 10 with joined wings, before I knew such an idea was being tested. However, current air transport is absolutely horrendous, and could get worse.

A possibilty within this collaboration would be to look at air travel. Domestic flights really don't appear to have a future within current thinking- TGVs are far more effective, can be electrified, and don't inject harmful emissions directly where they hurt the biosphere the most.

International travel, however, will also need to undergo a total revolution. Teleconferencing and enhanced communications will help avoid business related travel, but what of holiday travellers?

The idea I love most is to re-establish overseas holidays as a massively anticipated, once every decade event, with the journey an amazing experience in itself. While large ships, possibly propelled in part by wind, would be ideal, there will always be a market for air travel. Aircraft will need to fly at lower altitude more slowly, using more efficient propulsion and aerodynamics, so journey times would be longer. There is potential for airlines to turn the flight itself into a package holiday with stop-overs en route, a la the golden age of flying boats. (This also avoids turning over land area to airport runways)

Interestingly, the thinking of my 10 year old self inventing the glider has importance here. The idea of joined wings came to me when I read that a wing is ultimately efficient if it has no tip. That is, a wing inside a wind tunnel, with both tips joined to the walls, has miniscule amounts of aerodynamic drag with respect to lift. The joined wing glider was highly stable, and had a low wing loading, but at the same time had significantly reduced drag- perfect for a slow speed, long range transport.

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