1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Biggest problem facing the aeronautics industry?

  1. Oct 14, 2009 #1
    Hey all, I need to write a paper on what I think is the biggest problem facing the aeronautics industry in the future. So I suppose this is technically homework but I think it fits better here and could make an interesting discussion. Anyway, I have a couple of thoughts already but I'd like to hear what you all have to say first. And feel free to be creative, I like my papers to be unique!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2009 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You're better off listing the ideas you have and we can give feedback on them. We can't ethically just start writing your paper for you.
  4. Oct 14, 2009 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Probably not engineering but financial.
    The cost of designing and tooling for a new plane like the 787 or the A380 is now so vast that you are betting the company on each new product.
    Combine that with airlines that are no longer large safe and secure companies that can plan $10Bn investments 10years in the future and it gets tricky to go to the bank with a business plan for a new plane.
  5. Oct 14, 2009 #4
    Fair enough, I thought I'd let you guys talk first, sometimes it seems like when there's an idea or two put on the table right away people will focus on that and not move onto other things. Anyway, I've had two ideas so far.

    Firstly, I was thinking about something along the lines of fuel consumption and reliance on fossil fuels. Then I could probably base my paper on alternative fuel sources. I know of a couple of airlines that have experimented with natural gas and biofuels. I could also include something about how airplanes themselves are changing to adapt to this need. Example: the blended wing design and specifically nasa's x-48 aircraft

    The other idea I had was maybe talk about speed. Whether or not this is true, I would need to confirm, but it seems to me like in general aircraft have reached somewhat of a plateau when it comes to airspeed. We essentially rely almost completely on jet propulsion which can only push a plane so fast. And then I could go on to discuss alternative means of propulsion, such as the scramjet and nasa's x-43 project
  6. Oct 14, 2009 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The fuels paper would have a fair amount of available references and is a good topic. Also make sure you include Fischer-Tropsch fuels in your research.

    As far as the speed issue goes, there isn't much to say. Concorde proved it could be done, just not economically. One of the big limiting factors was restriction of supersonic flight over land masses. The engines were not the limiting factor. The alternative ideas are so far out there that they are not really considerable. We have decades to go before a passenger rides on a scramjet powered aircraft.
  7. Oct 15, 2009 #6
    hmmm, those Fischer-Tropsch fuels seem like something interesting to discuss. I found an article about the navy making jetfuel out of seawater using the Fischer-Tropsch process. I hadn't thought of the financial part but this is for an engineering class so I'm thinking I'll stick with an engineering topic. Any other thoughts out there on a potential problem? Again, I like to write about things that might be considered unique and I have a feeling a lot of people might come up with efficiency.
  8. Oct 15, 2009 #7
    This includes commercial, military and private. It's kind of hard to lump these all together. Do you have one, in particular, in mind?
  9. Oct 15, 2009 #8
    I haven't had one in mind, but given the choice military is the one that interests me the most. The essay prompt doesn't specify any particular area. Here is the actual prompt:

    Write an essay describing what you think are the greatest technical challenges in aeronautics for the next 20-25 years, and why. You can pick one challenge or several. You should address what types of research will be required to address the challenge(s), and what ideas or concepts you think might help to solve them. You will need to explain the challenge(s) and your proposed concepts in sufficient technical depth to demonstrate your technical understanding, and you will also need to clearly explain why the challenge(s) is/are so important.
  10. Oct 19, 2009 #9
    liability and lawsuits

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601170&sid=aJakS3aUYu0M [Broken]

    don't forget that many of the aviation "industry players" are not that large and when on group gets a lawsuit layed upon it, the liability can trickle down, wrecking smaller suppliers.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  11. Oct 19, 2009 #10


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

  12. Oct 23, 2010 #11
    hey ehilge, it sounds like you are applying for the NASA Aerospace Scholarship. the requirements you posted below are the exact requirements for the program. if this is so, why don't you just come out and ask the people for help with your topic. I am sure the people here would be glad to help. I am also applying for the program and am looking for the same information as you. I will tell you this, if you look at the nasa website and fish around, you can find the information you are looking for to do your paper. remember, when you do your paper, they are looking for relevant research as it applies to aeronautics. Good luck to you and I wish you luck on picking your topic!
  13. Oct 24, 2010 #12
    Very perceptive of you :) I actually applied last year for the scholarship program and wasn't accepted. For what its worth, I ended up writing my essay on ways to increase fuel economy and alternative fuels. Best of luck on your application!
  14. Oct 25, 2010 #13


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I think that, unfortunately, politics is the determining factor. Whether that be governmental interference, or corporate economics, it comes down to the same shameful fact: the suits run the show. It sucks, but it's the way of the world.
  15. Nov 6, 2010 #14
    The same problem it has always been: gravity!
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook