Since Icarus donned his ill-fated wings, humans have hungered for better ways to fly. And after Orville and Wilbur Wright’s flight got modern aviation off the ground in 1903, advancements have continued to push the envelope of performance and expand the parameters of the plausible.
From a personal craft capable of vertical takeoff and landing to an 800-passenger, hydrogen-fuel-based behemoth, the following aircraft concepts of 2015 keep our expectations soaring:
Passengers on business jets may soon have a new option for passing the time on long flights—a glass-enclosed SkyDeck installed at the top of the fuselage that would provide 360-degree views of the outside world. Two comfortable seats are accessed by either a staircase or an elevator, and once the passengers are aloft, the seats can be rotated to take in the view in any direction.
The concept was developed by Windspeed Technologies, based in Everett, Wash., an experienced aerospace engineering firm. The company has been working on the specifications for more than a year and have filed a patent application. The company estimates the price per aircraft at about $8 million to $25 million.
7. XTI TriFan 600:
The startup aviation company XTI Aircraft announced this week that it has been developing the XTI TriFan 600 concept, the world’s smallest fixed-wing aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and is in the process of seeking funding to finance the first example.
The six-seat, fixed-wing TriFan 600 will pair the speed, distance, and altitude capabilities of a small business jet with the ability to ascend, descend, and hover like a helicopter. The company says that the aircraft will have a range of 1,200 miles and that it will be able to reach its maximum cruising altitude beyond 30,000 feet in 11 minutes and its cruising speed of 400 mph in 90 seconds.