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Nonstop Connecting Flights

Change planes at high altitudes.
  [vote for,

Aerial roundabout with suspended terminal for exchange of passengers and fueling whilst in-flight. The terminal platform is suspended and stabilized by the several planes that are attached at any given moment. As a result, it rotates. When one plane detaches and proceeds onto its destination, another takes its place.

Passenger exchange is accomplished when a plane lowers its weighted zip-line, attaches to the terminal, and the terminal trolley ascends. The trolly airlock seals to the plane's exterior, the doors open and the passengers clamor on and off. The trolley then zips down to the terminal platform, is reattached to the next plane's zip-line, and hauled up. A second zip-line is used for the fueling hoses.

Planes from the ground transfer passengers, fuel, and coffee making supplies to/from the aerial terminal. Non-passenger planes can be dispatched from the ground to manage lift voids caused by flight delays.

What could possibly go wrong?
LimpNotes, Jul 07 2014

Kiritimaticentrifugomobile [DenholmRicshaw, Jul 07 2014]

Who needs a runway? Every airplane can be half a helicopter Who needs a runway_...e half a helicopter
[ytk, Jul 07 2014]

Harrison Ford for President! http://www.imdb.com.../tt0118571/synopsis
End rescue of the movie was exactly this. [RayfordSteele, Jul 08 2014]


       You do understand that all this needs to happen while the plane is flying at something like 1000kph?
Vernon, Jul 07 2014

       I think the speed has to be closer matched than that [Vernon] or the connectors will be damaged.
pocmloc, Jul 07 2014

       //A second zip-line is used for the fueling hoses// An unstable platform in the sky, rotating once every 2.3 seconds*, with aeroplanes constantly linking and detatching from it can only be made safer by the presence of thousnds of gallons of flamable aviation fuel.

* - based on a diameter of 100 metres and an aeroplane speed of 600mph (268m/s).
hippo, Jul 07 2014


Yes indeed! If we look at a profile of the whole system it will look like a cone. The wide upper rim of the cone will be traveling quite fast. The point of the cone, not so fast. The high speed at the edge is necessary to produce a cone wide enough to avoid crowding of the aircraft while keeping the point of the cone as close to the plane plane as possible. Otherwise, extremely long zip-lines will be needed, and the idea just becomes impractical.
LimpNotes, Jul 07 2014

       //diameter of 100 metres//

I'm thinking the planes will be flying in a much greater diameter than that. Or do you mean the diameter of the platform? I guess you mean the platform. I'd think the speed of rotation of the conic section that represented the platform would depend on how wide a circle the planes were flying in and how "deep" the cone was.
LimpNotes, Jul 07 2014

       The circumference of the circle is 314 meters. A linear velocity of 277 meters per second gives us an acceleration of 1543 meters per second^2 or 157 times the force of gravity. Your passengers will be paste if they can disembark in the given .18 seconds (assuming they have 50 meters in which to do so)   

       If you make the air air port much, much larger in diameter you can get the acceleration down to something survivable at the rim and it may be possible to get the changeover time down to something feasible. For a 30 minute passenger change time you'll need 500,000 meters at that speed.
Voice, Jul 07 2014

       ...also, I can sort of see how the platform stays aloft (although within minutes the drag from the zip-lines would slow the aeroplanes down and pull them inwards until they, and the entire platform, plunge to the ground in a firey inferno) but how does it get there?
hippo, Jul 07 2014

       Thanks for grinding some of this math. Can't seem to find where I filed that know-how in my head at the moment. Time to create a new manilla and look at these numbers again. Seems a bit larger than I thought it'd be.

//drag from the zip-lines would slow the aeroplanes down//

I thought of that too, but I was hoping the rarefied air would be less of a drag. Some spiraling could be expected.

//how does it get there?//

It's built on-site by a bunch of crazy S.O.B.s in pressurized suits, dangling on wires, from planes flying in circles.
LimpNotes, Jul 07 2014

       Reminds me a bit of the Kiritimaticentrifugomobile   

       See link...
DenholmRicshaw, Jul 07 2014

       Reminds me a bit of my idea to actually get the planes off the ground in a similar fashion. [Kansan101] also brought up the issue of the g-force of such a design over there.
ytk, Jul 07 2014

       Hey thanks for the links guys! Here's the calculations I came up with.

The airplane is subject to gravity and centripetal acceleration. The passengers on the trolley are subject to additional acceleration when the trolley starts moving but for now we'll look only at the plane. Using vector addition, and working backwards, we find that the maximum acceleration perpendicular to gravity should be about 10.96m/ss if we want our passengers to experience no more than 1.5 Gees of net acceleration. If we give an allowance of 0.5m/ss for the acceleration of the trolley, this allows us 10.16m/ss for the centripetal acceleration.

We know that the planes fly 1000km/h (277.77m/s), and we know our maximum centripetal acceleration, so we can calculate for r to see how big a circle will need to be. This gives us a radius of 7376.3 m and a circumference of 46,323 m. Using the trolley acceleration of 0.5m/ss and the radius, we can see that it will take 171s to reach the center of the disc. Probably keep it slower than that.

I was curious about how the centripetal acceleration would change as the trolley moved closer to the center so I calculated the revolutions per second and worked backwards from there to get the relationship: a=0.0014/ss * r. This means that for every meter the trolley moves closer to the center, it loses 0.0014m/ss of centripetal acceleration even though it continues to accelerate at 0.5m/ss. You'd feel like you were slowing the whole time. Keeping in mind the accelerations calculated are in the plane of the disc, and not in the context of a cone, I don't see how the math and g-forces defeat this idea... yet. The size is fine.
LimpNotes, Jul 08 2014

       //You'd feel like you were slowing the whole time//

Accelerating less the whole time?
LimpNotes, Jul 08 2014

       So this is nearly 15km wide?
hippo, Jul 08 2014

       Where the planes fly, yes. I was hoping for a little smaller, but alas. The platform is much smaller.

The zip-lines are what I'm hung up on. I don't think we have materials that would support that length, especially under load. Even if one could do the monkey fist (in the nautical sense) thing, I don't think the plane could store the zip-line in it's retracted state. It would just take up too much space.

By "fine" I mean closer to what I'd originally imagined.
LimpNotes, Jul 08 2014

       Float the central airport as a very large balloon, with a series of tracks around the outside of decreasing velocity. Still do the tether thing, but the airplane can fly almost directly above the outer ring for unloading, and the ring can extend a jetway to the mid-ventral hatch. (which will be slightly offcenter to allow for the continuous bank of the plane).   

       The multiple rings allow the passengers to walk to the central lounge, where they will be stranded and charged $50 for a burger when their connecting flight fails to show up due to the failure of the pilot's iPod.
MechE, Jul 08 2014

       Would it work with buses or taxis?
popbottle, Jul 08 2014

       Buses and taxis usually don't operate at high altitudes, or at 600mph either come to think about it.
pocmloc, Jul 08 2014

       Skip the balloon and shape the walkways like wings.
Voice, Jul 09 2014

       //large balloon// //outer ring// //wings//

Excellent suggestions guys, superior even.
LimpNotes, Jul 09 2014


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