Airbus has unveiled a stunning conceptual design for a new airliner that pushes the boundaries of technology and innovation with its bird-like appearance, created to inspire a new generation of aeronautical engineers.
The design isn’t just a flight of fancy though, dubbed the ‘Bird of Prey’ due to wing and tail structures which mimic those of an eagle or falcon, it features individually controlled feathers providing active flight control meaning it could actually fly.
Even the split tail enables fine control while the lack of a vertical tail significantly reduces drag. Among the other biomimicry features are a blended wing to fuselage joint mirroring the graceful and aerodynamic arch of a bird of prey. It’s not just an elegant design, it showcases the future capabilities of airframe design spearheaded by the UK’s world-class aerospace industry.
Sadly, before you start looking to purchase tickets, the Bird of Prey is not intended to represent an actual aircraft concept; its primary purpose is to inspire young engineers meaning we probably won’t ever see it in the skies above us. However, the concept is grounded in reality and gives an insight into what a future regional aircraft could look like. It is an extrapolation of what could be done with technologies that currently form the basis of research within Airbus, such as hybrid-electric propulsion to reduce atmospheric emissions, active control systems and advanced composite structures.
The UK is unique in having widespread presence in advanced engineering and a thriving digital sector. Bringing those together with the imagination of a younger generation is intended to give the UK a lead in the global re-engineering of engineering itself.
Martin Aston, Senior Manager at Airbus said about the project, “The Bird of Prey is designed to be an inspiration to young people and create a “wow” factor that will help them consider an exciting career in the UK’s crucially-important aerospace sector. One of the priorities for the entire industry is how to make aviation more sustainable – making flying cleaner, greener and quieter than ever before.”
From someone who has worked in the aviation industry for two decades, there are many ways that young eager talent can get involved. If you are inspired by engineering, flight, piloting or even airline management, there are multiple ways to get started, but most of these are rooted in a good education, or failing that, at least work experience in a similar field. The industry more than ever needs innovative new minds to help challenge the increasing pressures placed on the industry, and now, like every year before remains an amazing time to enter the industry.