Currently, there is great emphasis, worldwide, on environmental issues. This will have an impact on civil aircraft design, manufacture and operation.
Since the advent of the jet engine and swept wing aircraft, the trends have naturally tended towards greater productivity through increasing speed and payload. The cruise speed of conventional civil aircraft is unlikely to increase beyond current levels. Further increases in productivity are achieved by increasing payloads. This has led towards larger aircraft with the capability for increased ranges. It is shown that designing aircraft for longer ranges increases fuel burn significantly.
A series of aircraft operational parameters have been analysed. Selected data and established trends for current and future aircraft are presented. The data has been interpreted into efficiency terms, relating payload, range, fuel consumed and a measure of unit costs. It is shown that ‘value’ (cost) and noise effective efficiencies decrease dramatically with increasing range.
Environmental and economic considerations, in the future, may well demand greater efficiency in preference to productivity. One solution for long-range services is to use short-range hops. Another is via air-to-air refuelling. This will be addressed, in more detail, in a future paper.
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