Airplane Design . info

Here's the story of the website that used to be here and why it has been temporarily taken offline.

When I was in college, I created and taught a course for non-engineers about the history of aviation technology. We stepped through the history of aviation, from the 1800s until today, and looked at when each important technological innovation was introduced and what impact it had on the aviation world. We then looked at wings (planforms, airfoils, high-lift devices, etc.), engines (pistons [in line, radial, turbocharged], jet [centrifugal and axial turbojets, turboprops, turbofans, afterburners], and exotic [rotary radials, motorjets, pulsejets, ramjets/scramjets, unducted prop-fans, rocket engines, electric motors, fuel cells and solar, human-powered]), control and stability and balance (control surfaces, trim, CG location and lift moments, canards), envelopes such as the power curve (one speed to maximize range, another to maximize endurance) and speed/altitude (including the "coffin corner" at the top), various drag reduction techniques, structural concepts, exotic configurations like flying wings, forward-swept wings, blended-wing bodies... Stealth airplane design, the history of VTOL prototypes...

The objective was to show that everything in every airplane, today and throughout history, is shaped and located and built the way it is for a very good reason (or, typically, as a compromise between various factors), and to explain some of the details, revealing how they vary between different kinds of airplanes today and over time. Why does every airliner look similar, and every modern fighter jet looks similar, but airliners look different from fighter jets? Why were most early airplanes biplanes? Why do some modern airplanes still use piston engines? Why do slow airplanes have rectangular wings? Why has commercial flight not experienced any apparent changes in 50 years? Why do gliders (but not other airplanes, typically) have long slender wings? Why are stealth airplanes flat? Why do new airliners not incorporate features like more room and super-large windows and comfy seats that would make commercial flight less unpleasant? If some military airplanes can take off and land straight up, why donít more airplanes incorporate this technology? Why donít airliners fly at Concorde speeds? By understanding the tradeoffs that go into airplane design, the answers became clear.

I wrote hand-outs for each class, and in the end, they added up to about 180 pages. I posted most of that content on this website.

However, I am now publishing it as a book. This requires rewriting the bulk of the text (I was not a very good writer when I was 20 years old) and redoing all the images (now that I can no longer get away with stealing images from the internet and calling it fair use. Thatís typically OK in a college class hand-out, and even in a noncommercial website, using small images for educational purposes, but not so OK in a published book).

When the book is done, I will post the updated content here (or redirect to it, if it gets a new site, which it probably will). Current plans are to make e-book downloads free (so if you have an iPad or Kindle, you can get it as a free e-book), to have all the content up on the web as normal HTML webpages, and to also offer a PDF that you can download for free. The physical paper book, of course, will not be free. I hope to be done with the bulk of the work by the end of 2013 and publish the book sometime in 2014.

Stay tuned. And thank you for your interest.

- Bernardo





PS: Ok, fine, if you insist: You can download the original version of my work here. Please keep in mind that I was very young when I wrote it, that I realize how badly written it is, and that I am working on a much improved version. I'm pretty embarrassed about this original version, but since people keep emailing me and asking me about it, I guess I might as well leave it up for now.