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Active Turbulence Reducer

grind beans and pour water without spilling.
  [vote for,

Clear air turbulence is what happens in clear skies when the boundary of two different velocities, temperatures, or densities of air cross the path of an airplane. all of the sudden the aerodynamic properties change and for the same angle of attack generates more or less lift. hence that sudden few foot drop, or bumps as you go through different layers of air that look like ripples in sand or water.

I propose using a nose cone sticking out maybe 10-30 feet from the nose. it would have a set of small wings and movement, force and air density sensors.

Basically it would measure the turbelence in front of the plane then extremely quick acting servos would minutely adjust the leading edge of the wing right when the turbulence would hit the wings to cancel out the effect. This is exactly the same as active suspension systems for cars, or any other active feedback loop. delta wing planes have some similar technologies because basically they are so unstable no human could pilot them. So the fast acting computers and technology are there.

A pilot or aeronautical engineer could probably tell you how far ahead the sensors would have to be. For very big drops in density that cause the plane to lose 50+ feet it wouldn't be able to counter that, but instead put you in a slow pitched dive to remove that sudden drop feeling.

metarinka, Dec 25 2010


       Autopilots are already tuned to counter turbulence, and there are also yaw dampers. But I guess the extended probe is a new idea.   

       It's sort of like a new Air Force technology used to precisely aim airdrops - a sensor is released seconds before the cargo allowing it to make corrections in advance.
DIYMatt, Dec 25 2010

       there's a type of aircraft where the wing pivots pitchwise to automatically counter gusts. They have no pitch control[edit: they do, but why bother using it?], the aircraft just ascends and descends while level, controlled by the engine speed. If there's a gust the wing pitches a little bit downward to avoid gaining altitude, likewise a loss of air will cause the wings to pitch a bit upwards to compensate.   

       [later] it's called a "free floating wing". Does what you want.
FlyingToaster, Dec 25 2010

       If the probe is extended 30ft, and the plane is cruising at 400mph, that gives about 1/20th of a second for the control surfaces to respond (maybe 1/10th, given that the wings are further back than the nose). Given that they need to be fairly large and travel, they're going to have to be quite alarmingly powered...
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 25 2010

       Why not have the wings mounted on enormous shock absorbers instead?
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 25 2010

       Delta wings aren't "so unstable...", you're thinking of either negative-dihedral wings or flying wings: the former wants to fly upside-down, the latter a bird with no tail feathers.   

       Granted delta wings aren't really happy at low speeds, ie: landing and takeoff. However when the nose is pitched up at landing and takeoff, your extended nosecone is 20 feet higher than the wings of the aircraft, measuring air that the wings aren't going to be flying through: useless.
FlyingToaster, Dec 25 2010

       Ohhh ... Kayyy ....   

       Where to start ?   

       Modern combat aircraft, the "die-by-wire" kind, have neutral or negative stability. Their avionics packages do exactly what's described, based on inertial references and some sophisticated algorithms. They are quite literally unflyable without the software (and barely flyable with it, in many cases).   

       Single engine prop driven puddle jumpers are much too slow, positively stable and unsophistcated for this to have any impact.   

       Large civil aircraft are simply tin (or carbon fibre, if you're fool enough to buy the 787) coffins, waiting for Mother Nature to smack them into something hard.   

       Sorry, [met], you're a little behind the curve with this one.   

       [Widely-known-to -have-already-been-done -some-time-ago]
8th of 7, Dec 26 2010

       Can't air speed and density be detected by radar?   

       // This is exactly the same as active suspension systems for cars// I've never seen a car with an extra set of bogey wheels stuck out the front.   

       [MaxwellBuchanan] Passive shock absorbers are not such a bad idea, but the wings would need to be able to rotate, which is a non-trivial engineering task.
marklar, Dec 26 2010


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