Boeing Gets Busy: Slick New Planes, Wild New Patents

March has been a busy month for Boeing – one which saw the maiden flight of the company’s third new biofuel-capable 747-8 intercontinental plane and new patent filings for quieter, less disruptive passenger planes.

The 747-8 completed its inaugural flight last Sunday, after spending four hours and 25 minutes of flight maneuvers not usually associated with a first flight.  This was the first of many upcoming flights planned as the luxury flier completes the roughly 600 hours of mandatory test time required for FAA certification (Wired provided an in-depth look at “the brains of the 787 test flight” a year ago, which highlights the hows and whys of the testing process).

Those patents for quieter new planes I mentioned above?  Take a look below.

This wild, forward-swept wing design minimizes turbulence and positions the plane’s engines above the wings or rear section of the plane (between two vertical tails).  A patent for the design was issued March 8th, on applications filed in 2006 and 2007.  The thinking behind the design is that conventional engine placements under the wings puts nothing between noise and the ground, and actually serves to deflect sound off of the wings toward the ground.  Boeing notes a similar issue with heat, which can be a problem for military aircraft trying to avoid heat-seeking ground attacks.

No word on when forward-swept sexy planes would be shuttling people around commercially – but considering the long life cycle of airline fleets and their highly rebuildable nature, it probably won’t be soon.

SourcesSeattle Pi, Wired.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.