SAX-40 (c) 2006 Cambridge-MIT Institute
SAX-40 (c) 2006 Cambridge-MIT Institute - 
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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: American and British engineers have unveiled a futuristic new design for passenger aircraft. The SAX-40 is ultra fuel-efficient and practically silent. Marketplace's Stephen Beard reports from London.

STEPHEN BEARD: The research team from MIT and Cambridge University has come up with a radically different aircraft shape.

Gone is the thin tube. The central part of this plane is wide and shaped like a wedge. The engines would be on top, so the plane itself would shield people on the ground from noise.

The SAX-40 is reckoned to be 3,000 times quieter than a conventional passenger jet. And it is extremely fuel efficient, says project leader Anne Dowling:

ANNE DOWLING: We get lift from the center body as well as from the wings, and that makes it very efficient. We estimate something like 35% less fuel burned and that means less C02.

But in spite of its green credentials, analysts say, the chances of the "silent plane" taking off in the near future are slim.

The cost of launching such a radically different aircraft, they say, would be prohibitive.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.