Over the last few years, airlines and aircraft manufacturers have been discussing the future requirement for a new, larger aircraft capable of carrying between 500 and 1,000 passengers that, as a result, will weigh in excess of 1 million pounds. But to bring this to reality there are some constraints faced:
- New Large Aircraft Characteristics
- Impact on Airport Design
- Costs to Airports
Development of new large aircraft is being explored by Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and Airbus Industries. Each plan to develop its own family of “super-jumbo” jets. Many of the planned aircraft are larger derivatives of aircraft that are already flying. Other new aircraft, however, are based on completely new designs that are unlike anything currently in production.
All studies are done to increase the two basic factors:
- Capacity – By increasing the Fuselage width
- Range – By increasing the Engine performance
Modification of Existing Infrastructure
NOTE: ACI (airports council international) considers that NLA should not be planned to exceed Code F wingspan and wheel span, and in particular, wingspans of over 80 meters may prove unacceptable. Aircraft manufacturers should design all future aircraft in a manner which does not provide greater stress to pavements than current aircraft. The costs of modifications to airports to accommodate new aircraft types should be recovered from airport users.
Ex – Boing 747-8, 777x-9, Airbus Beluga XL, etc.
- Runway Length: Airports expecting to accommodate NLA will require specific planning data to determine whether current runway lengths are sufficient to accommodate NLA. NLA, with their high-lift generating wing designs, will have runway length requirements equal to, or less than today’s B747-400. Therefore, an airport that can currently accommodate a B747-400 should not require any extensions or modifications to the length of their runways.
- Runway Width: It becomes a concern with the introduction of the NLAs. To accommodate NLA, but not currently having design group V or VI (Design provision for wider Runways according to FAA) capability, may be required to widen their runways to meet the appropriate design group requirements. Similarly the taxiways should also be amended.
- Firefighting and Protection: The introduction of NLA will present new challenges to current aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) equipment and practices. In determining the size and capability of the rescue and firefighting equipment required at an airport, the size and physical characteristics of the NLA will play an important role.
- Emergency Procedures at airports: Airports that are expecting to serve future NLA will need to enhance their current procedures for dealing with aircraft emergencies. NLA will carry significantly more passengers than today’s aircraft and will require that additional emergency equipment, supplies, and personnel are available to properly respond to a possible NLA emergency.
- Bearing Strength: Aprons should withstand the load of NLAs as with the increase in capacity an aircraft will weigh 1 million pound in excess
In a Nutshell:
Introduction of NLAs will definitely bring great enhancement in the air travel experience but its implementation is not so easy. As we have seen the CONCORDE it came into existence much before it was required into the market and the eventually the project was taken down as the cost of flying and maintenance of Concorde was very demanding with respect to the period it belonged to.
So, NLAs are the future aircrafts with enhanced capabilities which will bring evolution to the highly diversified, widely growing, much demanding but very unpredictable aviation sector.