By 2050 we may not all be flying into space, but we could be taking off like rockets

According to Airbus, taking off at sharper angles could save a significant amount of fuel, and, as it turns out, the European airplane maker says it could build just such a plane by mid-century. The design would involve a series of wheels fitted to the bottom of the plane that give it more up an upward propulsion and detach just before taking flight. I imagine runways littered with bunches of wheel “carcasses” as if a bunch of  cicadas had just shed their shells. Taking off this way, theoretically, gets planes up to their cruising speed much quicker, which helps them to economize fuel.

Taking off isn’t the only innovation Airbus sees in its jet-fueled future.

A new way of landing could be part of the game too, as the BBC writes:

[Airbus] suggested planes could glide towards airports using a steeper approach than is common at present as an alternative to the use of engine thrust and air brakes.
It said this could slow aircraft at an earlier stage, making shorter landing distances possible.
"As space becomes a premium and mega-cities become a reality, this approach could... minimise land use, as shorter runways could be utilised," it added.

Wait, gliding to a landing “using a steeper approach?” That sounds like stalling out in mid-air. And cities are going to get bigger and more congested, so airports are going to have to take up less of a footprint. I hope these planes come with gigantic parachutes too.

About the author

Marc Sanchez is the technical director and associate producer for Marketplace Tech Report where he is responsible for shaping the sound of the show.
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