A new concept widebody aircraft has been unveiled by an Alabama startup. SE Aeronautics (the SE standing for Super Efficient) have reworked the entire concept of an airliner, and revealed an innovative tri-wing aircraft that they say will have an 80% lower carbon footprint than similar traditional planes. Here’s what you need to know about the SE200.
A widebody redesign
Despite the impact of COVID on aviation, sustainability remains at the forefront of the industry’s focus. Just yesterday, outgoing CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, pegged sustainability as the biggest challenge facing his successor, Willie Walsh, once the industry gets back to some sort of normal.
As such, multiple stakeholders are developing new technologies and strategies to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment. So far, these solutions have revolved around new engine technology, new construction materials, and new ways of powering aircraft. But what if the aircraft, as we know it, is ready for a radical redesign?
Commercial aircraft have been largely the same for around six decades. An Alabama-based startup by the name of SE Aeronautics believes it’s time to rethink this. It has, this week, unveiled its patent-pending concept for the widebody of the future, which it calls the SE200.
The SE200 promises more efficient flight, lower cost of operation, increased passenger safety, and a useful lifespan that is double that of a traditional aircraft. Lloyd Weaver, Chief Engineer at SE Aeronautics, says that the company has considered everything in the design of this aircraft, commenting,
“Our innovative technology and new aircraft design will lower fuel consumption by 70% and lower CO2 emissions by 80% as measured by per seat kilometer. The innovative design is a more efficient, light-tri wing configuration that greatly improves lift over drag, resulting in short take-off and landing (STOL) capabilities and extremely long flights. The construction is all composite, molded in one tough, safer piece. We also incorporated super thin, long wings and complete streamlining from the nose to the tail. We did it all.”
How the aircraft stacks up
The principle of the aircraft is embedded not only in its unusual tri-wing design but also in its construction. Rather than being fabricated from bolted-together panels, the SE200 features a monocoque design, meaning it is molded from one single piece of composite. This, the company says, will reduce fatigue and make the aircraft safer for passengers.
The super-thin wings are no longer doubling up as fuel storage. Instead, fuel is stored in a bladder atop the fuselage. This, the company says, will make the plane capable of floating for long periods in the event of an emergency water landing.
Propulsion will be delivered by two superefficient engines mounted at the rear, which the company says will give it a thrust of 64,000 lbf. SE Aeronautics has considered cargo, too, with a ‘state of the art bulk container system’ and a maximum takeoff weight of 170,000 lb.
In terms of passengers, the aircraft is intended to carry around 264 passengers to a range of 10,560 miles. That gives it longer legs than the A330neo and 787 families and almost takes it as far as the A350ULR. But are these things enough to really allow such a radical redesign to compete with Boeing and Airbus?
Tyler Mathews, CEO of SE Aeronautics, believes it is. He commented,
“This aircraft will be the most practical, profitable and permanent solution to the grossly underperforming airliner technology of today. Our manufacturing efficiency will allow us to produce our aircraft in significantly less time than the current traditional method. But the jewel in the crown is really our ability to get that fuel consumption rate down by 70%. We are going to revolutionize the industry.”
What do you think of the SE200? Revolutionary, or pie in the sky? Let us know in the comments.