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BOSTON - A U.S.-British team of researchers from academia and the aerospace industry believes the passenger aircraft of the distant future will not only be fuel efficient, but virtually silent.
Leaders of a long-range research venture called the "Silent Aircraft Initiative" were scheduled Monday to release a conceptual design for a plane they say could cut through the air with practically no sound bothering those below, thanks to its unique shape and design features to limit engine noise.
The design adds a new twist to aviation's long history of mixed success developing flying wings designed to be more fuel- and space-efficient than conventional aircraft with long, narrow fuselages.
The design, to be announced in a news conference at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, would blend fuselage and wings together so that the entire airframe provides lift — an approach that to date has been confined largely to payload-carrying military aircraft such as long-range bombers.
The body shape of the "silent aircraft" would allow for a slower landing approach and takeoff to cut airport noise — a form of environmental pollution that makes it politically unpopular to expand airports and flight schedules.