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Old Posted Dec 15, 2016, 6:11 PM
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Steely Dan Steely Dan is online now
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The Jetliner: still the same basic form after 6 decades

so man's first powered machine to take to the skies was this ungainly contraption from the early 20th century. certainly not a looker, but she proved the concept of powered flight, which is all that mattered

Wright Flyer, first flight 1903


then, a mere 54 years later, aircraft designers had hit upon the winning formula for the world's first commercially successful and fully modern jetliner, the boeing 707. it's all there: a long thin circular fuselage, a single large swept-back wing with slats and flaps and podded jet engines slung underneath, a single large vertical stabilizer with horizontal stabilizers at the base, fully retractable tricycle landing gear, etc.

Boeing 707, first flight 1957


and then 52 years after the 707, we have the latest and greatest with the boeing 787, and while it is packed with a whole host of new technology that the 707's designers could have only ever dreamed of, from a basic overall form perspective, little appears to have changed.

Boeing 787, first flight 2009


we often talk about how fast our world changes, but some designs get the formula so correct from the beginning that there seems little to be gained by going back and reinventing the wheel.

in our lifetime, will the jetliner ever evolve into anything substantively different from this basic form, or is this it?
The world that we used to know, People tell me it don't turn no more
The places we used to go, Familiar faces that ain't smilin' like before
The time of our time has come and gone, I fear we been waiting too long

Last edited by Steely Dan; Dec 16, 2016 at 5:46 AM.
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