TECHKNOW: Things to come ... Pelican planes

TECHKNOW: Things to come ... Pelican planes - The US Army wants to be able to deploy five divisions anywhere in the world within a month, but it can't. Boeing is trying to make this possible.

by James Woudhuysen, James@Woudhuysen.com
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The US Army wants to be able to deploy five divisions anywhere in the world within a month, but it can't. Boeing is trying to make this possible.

Flying pelicans skim the water's surface, exploiting an aerodynamic phenomenon called ground effect - the angle of the airflow leaving the bird's wings is reduced and wingtip vortices are suppressed, cutting drag.

Boeing's Pelican cargo plane could exploit the same effect. As long as an American football field and 500ft wide, Pelican could fly 17 M-1 battle tanks on a single sortie of 10,000 nautical miles at just 20 feet above water and at more than 10 times the speed of a container ship. Pelican's control systems would adjust for different sea states and ascent to 20,000 feet would be possible in very severe weather.

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