Biplane and triplane aircraft designs may have largely died out in the 1930′s thanks to their inefficiency compared to monoplane designs but according to a recent blog post on Webaviation, they could make a comeback as supersonic aircraft in the coming decade or two. Apparently, a university team at Japan’s Tohoku University along with a Stanford/MIT team in the USA are both working on a supersonic biplane design that was originally thought up by aviation engineer Adolf Busemann back in the 1930′s. However, their concept would produce a greatly reduced sonic boom – a development that would lead to a revival of commercial supersonic air travel.
So how would a supersonic biplane work? Specifically, the aircraft’s wings would have to be at specific angles so that shockwaves would not destructively interfere as they left the wing cavity but there was a catch with the original idea as the concept aircraft would perform well in supersonic flight BUT it would not be able to fly at subsonic speeds because the wings are symmetrical and there would be tremendous drag.
However and some eight decades later, the Japanese and American aviation engineering teams are using computer simulations to improve upon Busemann’s original work and they have come up with two different approaches to solve the drag problem with the Japanese coming up with a movable wing concept while the American team has come up with an improved stationary wing design.
In other words, not only might we see the return of biplane designs, we might also soon see the return of supersonic aircraft as well but without the nasty loud sonic boom.