Strange-looking triple-wing jet promises more fuel efficiency

A company called SE Aeronautic has revealed a commercial airliner known as the SE200 that has a very strange configuration compared to current aircraft designs. In its high-lift-wing configuration, the jet features three wings and promises short takeoff and landing potential. Significant changes in commercial aircraft design are rare, but with the push to reduce fuel consumption and green the industry, some significant changes are being considered.

The SE200 prototype is an ultra-wide-body aircraft design, and its tri-wing design features a double tail fin with a pair of engines mounted in the rear. The concept aircraft would accommodate 264 passengers while consuming 70 percent less fuel than other jets of its size. Designers behind the aircraft say it could travel over a projected range of 10,500 miles at a top speed of 690.5 mph.

That's more range and higher speed than other jets in its class. The high-lift design could also mean the aircraft could use smaller airports than some current commercial aircraft are capable of using. The significant design changes include that fuel won't be stored in the wings as it is with current commercial aircraft. Instead, the fuel is stored in a bladder on top of the fuselage.

The aircraft is designed using an integrated monocoque structure described as a breakthrough in performance and safety. Gains in safety using the monocoque are important because current commercial aircraft are bolted together in large sections known as barrels which typically break during an accident. The one-piece design will make the SE200 safer in the event of a crash.

The aircraft is also designed with a 50-year service life, and the manufacturer says it can build the plane in about half the time it takes to build a typical aircraft of the size. The dual engines would produce a combined 64,000 pounds of thrust while consuming 70 percent less fuel. Currently, there is no indication of when or if the aircraft will see production.