Having 5000 Destinations in the Modern U.S. Airways System 2008-01-2265
Experience in recent years has demonstrated the inadequacy of the present U.S. Airways System. This paper assumes the adoption of one promising solution – the use of a few very large airports (which will be termed Super Regionals in the paper), widely dispersed across the country and not necessarily associated with any given city, and served by equally large air transports, something like the Boeing 777 or Airbus A380, providing the movement of the largest number of passengers, and cargo, between distant points. Air transport to and from these likely remote large airports and other airports would be accomplished by a variety of types and sizes of airplane, dependent on the traffic density to the given destination. This paper focuses on the one type of “other airplane” that could open up the system to include 5000 locations, this being the nominal figure for active airports in the U.S. with runways of 2000 foot length or over. Runways of this small size would also be located at the Super Regional airports but well away from those runways serving large airplanes. This class of small airplane additionally would operate in the system at much lower altitudes so as not to interfere with the flight paths of the larger airplanes, and the payload could be passengers, cargo/packages or both. Gust alleviation provisions could be added where necessary to improve comfort in this more turbulent portion of the atmosphere. Three different approaches (not mutually exclusive) for providing this short field service are compared for trip time performance, direct operating costs, and operational characteristics: a very conventional configuration (call it a large Model 172), a configuration with high lift Boundary Layer Control (BLC, circa 1955, with variations) and one more recent manifestation of Circulation Control called the PowerWing, using a dedicated engine to provide all internal air flow. (The last is the “control” to which the others are compared.) As developed here all three representative models would carry 15 passengers and have cruise speeds in the general range of 200 to 250 mph, suitable for the short distances they would fly. The conventional and PowerWing designs are of similar performance and cost, while the Boundary Layer Control airplane offers higher cruising speeds but balancing higher operating costs. The speed performance of the BLC configuration provides a substantial advantage for trip legs of 350 miles or more. The discussion of the airways system is expanded to consider world wide applications.