Saturday, 19th August, 2017

IIT Delhi student gets patent for his ‘Foldable-Wing Aircraft’ design to save parking space at airports

20, Jun 2014 By Kumar Shailove

While airlines have been struggling real hard with paying huge parking fees to the Airport Authority of India (AAI), and nothing major aircraft manufacturers could do in this regard, a breakthrough came from the aeronautical engineering laboratory of one of Asia’s premiere technology institutes – IIT Delhi.

Gaurav Rai, a 7th semester student of Aeronautical Engineering at IIT Delhi, has come up with a unique and innovative ‘Foldable-wing Aircraft’ design which will allow large passenger aircrafts to fold their wings.

Though folding wing aircraft is not a new concept, currently this feature is limited to small aircrafts and those used in navy and air force. Gaurav claims that once implemented, this design will enable huge passenger aircrafts to fold their front wings inside horizontally to reduce the overall space that is consumed when the aircraft is parked. This will enable saving up to 60% of aircraft parking space.

“I grew up inside an Air Force campus and always had a fascination for flying machines. I always wanted to do something different and exciting in this area, and here I am. It was not easy though. It took me almost 20 months of study, detailed research, experiments and many sleepless nights to come up with this design.” – Rai said.

On further asking about the project, Rai added – “Usually the angle between the body and front wings of the aircraft is in the range of 64 to 78 degrees. The huge length of the wings takes up most of the real state when the aircraft is parked. So I thought if we can fold the aircraft wings at an angle of around 20 degrees, we will save more than 60% of the parking space. My design has successfully been able to bring that angle down to 30 degrees with a 100% reliability in aircraft operations and experimentally I didn’t find a problem till aircraft reaches a speed of 1600 kmph, which is far below the normal speed of today’s passenger aircrafts. This has already been tested with a laboratory prototype. With wings-folded the aircraft takes 60% lesser parking space, so we can park two aircrafts in current space of one.”

This project was supported and supervised by two senior professors who have been guiding him on this project since last one year. “IIT has proved again that it is one of the best technology institutes in the world. We have already got a review and approval of this project from the IIT innovation committee and two senior aeronautical engineering professors at University of Florida. Last week we got a patent approval for this design” – quoted Prof. B. K. Batra, one of the supervisors on this project and a professor at IIT Delhi.

Gaurav’s next plan is to build a real prototype based on his design. “Though a laboratory prototype works, but we need to build a real working prototype before we can convince aircraft manufacturers to produce these kind of aircrafts. Obviously, lot of money will be required to build that prototype. I am already talking to the two major passenger aircraft manufacturers – Boeing and Airbus. I have also talked to few venture capitalists to sponsor my project. The overall interest so far has been very positive.” – Gaurav said.

Faking news also talked to couple of senior officials of one of the leading airlines companies.

“We are very excited to know about this project. Increasing aircraft parking fees remains a pain point for us and this solution can do us wonders. Passenger safety is our first motto and if this design can work with no compromise on the safety aspects of the aircraft, we would be willing to adapt the change. Our technical team will review the design and if they find worth it, we will also request our management team to fund this project” – said Vikram Mahajan, Operations Head of one of the leading airlines.