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Old 27 October 2016, 10:58 PM
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BoKu BoKu is offline
Join Date: 20 February 2000
Location: Douglas Flat, CA
Posts: 3,893

Originally Posted by overyonder View Post
On that note, I'll remind you that Dodge is still producing a Dart...
Are they? I know the Dart won't have a 2017 model, and I thought they'd already switched the Belvidere lines over to the more profitable Cherokee, but I could be wrong on the latter. Pity. I was hoping to upgrade from the Neon to an Argon or Xenon. It wouldn't have been as much fun, but it would still have been a gas.

Anyhow, as an actual aircraft designer, I can chip in a few things about the 747, besides that I was there for the first takeoff:

* The air, and our understanding of how it behaves, certainly haven't changed much. It's mostly 1/2pV^2 times a few other things to find lift and drag. What has changed a lot is the computational power to apply what we know to finesse subtleties like wing/fuselage/nacelle interactions and other down-in-the-weeds aspects for those last few percentage points.

* Airframe materials have changed a lot. Carbon fiber was known but little used in 1968, and now we are making entire airliners (and sport aircraft and supercars) out of it.

* Maturing metallurgy technologies have made engines much better and more efficient. Again, there's not much about jet engine performance that Frank Whittle's 1930s equations didn't address. But we now have metals and forming processes that allow higher temperatures and pressures, which result in greater efficiency, lower pollution, and lower noise.

* Electronics. Yup.

* Probably the biggest changes are in the economics of running an airline. The routing and pricing structures don't favor big birds like the 747 like they once did, and many of those niches are occupied by things like A380 or 777.

* A really interesting book on how the modern airliner came to be, and why it looks like it does, is _The Road to the 707_. Though not the greatest bit of writing, it is interesting and engaging and uncovers a few of the odd engineering inflection points that might otherwise have not seen the light of day.

Thanks, Bob K.
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