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Robberfly Airport

Until you get up close and notice the "cars" have wings, it looks like a parking lot. Okay, it really doesn't, but it could on a cloudy day, from a distance. Anyways...
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Made - at least initially - for small aircraft, the airport's main service is to provide takeoff and landing assist via drones : battery/plug-in vehicles with enough power and energy to pick up an aircraft and take it up to a decent altitude and speed before releasing ; likewise catching an incoming aircraft and landing it, vertically. No need for a runway.

Once a network of these airports can be established, small aircraft can be designed without flaps or landing gear, engine/motor and aerodynamic surfaces optimized for cruising speed.

Of course, you'd still need a hardpoint on top for the drone to hook onto, and one beneath as a pedestal mount.

FlyingToaster, Jul 18 2019

Parasite aircraft https://en.wikipedi...site_aircraft#1950s
Existing technology [8th of 7, Jul 18 2019]

Semi-Airborne Airport Mentioned in my anno. My idea that's vaguely related to this [notexactly, Jul 20 2019]

[link]






       I have considered this too. I think the lower top speed of a rotorcraft vs. a fixed wing is the main problem. You might have to do some clever geometry-shifting (like a V-22, but with the rotors part of the "drone" instead of attached to the plane proper) or drop them nose first... which would also mean catching the plane from a dive to land.
neutrinos_shadow, Jul 18 2019
  

       We just need to make indefinitely suspended airports but this is good too.   

       In the 1920's and '30's there were experiments with "parasite" fighters deployed from airships; and post-WW2, a similar scheme was devised to launch and recover a fighter from a jet bomber. So mid-air capture and launch can be done, but required immense skill.   

       // without flaps or landing gear //   

       If something goes wrong mid-flight, you still need the hardware to let you land on a convenient bit of flat ground, at low speed.
8th of 7, Jul 18 2019
  

       what [shadow] said
pertinax, Jul 18 2019
  

       Common sense says a BRS, probably attached to the top hardpoint, given the CG requirement. Also - perhaps - an internal belly skid, like modern cars with the bumper inside plastic fascia.   

       The hex/quad/whatever-copters would have their own BRS.
FlyingToaster, Jul 19 2019
  

       // which would also mean catching the plane from a dive to land. //   

       From a climb.   

       // indefinitely suspended airports //   

       I don't know what those are—are they like my [linked] idea?   

       // If something goes wrong mid-flight, you still need the hardware to let you land on a convenient bit of flat ground, at low speed. //   

       Whole-airplane parachutes are available. Is that what "BRS" refers to?
notexactly, Jul 20 2019
  

       BRS = Ballistic Recovery System.   

       Useful, but not particularly steerable.
8th of 7, Jul 20 2019
  

       That's exactly what I was guessing it stood for. Probably a guess based on a vague memory, not just being that smart (not that I'm not, of course :P).   

       But I only know of such systems for small GA planes, not airliners, yet.
notexactly, Jul 21 2019
  

       That's because the big civil stuff doesn't have the margin of strength in the airframe to take a BRS; they would come apart, in a spectacular and deeply unpleasant way.
8th of 7, Jul 21 2019
  

       What about that plane whose roof came off but still landed safely in Hawaii?   

       Couldn't the harness distribute the forces, too?
notexactly, Jul 21 2019
  

       Ah yes, Aloha Airlines famous "Verandah" service ...   

       The problems with a BRS for a civil jet are numerous, but amongst them are:   

       1. Ideally, the chute should be coupled through to the mainspar, which runs across the centre of the cabin floor in most designs; a pylon at that point, colocated with the overwing exits, might be a little inconvenient.   

       2. The speed at which the chute needs to deploy; in fact, a staged system is needed to get the airspeed down to 150kt or less, which takes time (= altitude ) on a big jet.   

       3. The extra mass & bulk of the chute & harness.   

       4. The psychological factor of "expecting failure". On a single -engine puddle jumper, failure is always an option - on a scheduled service, maybe not so much.
8th of 7, Jul 21 2019
  

       [notexactly]: from a climb
That makes much more sense.
neutrinos_shadow, Jul 21 2019
  
      
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