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Antares: This Bombardier concept plane could land and take-off on very short runways, allowing it to serve smaller airports and tap into new markets (Bombardier)
Antares: This Bombardier concept plane could land and take-off on very short runways, allowing it to serve smaller airports and tap into new markets (Bombardier)

Prototypes

Antares: An aircraft concept based on a NASA design Add to ...

Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.

The concept

The Antares is an advanced visual representation of an airplane design based on the Amelia project. The dimensions and most elements are different, but the spirit of the concepts remains.

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The background

For me, inspiration comes in many forms and one of them is when I'm reading magazines. Recently I read an article in Popular Science about the future of flight. It featured a new regional jet design envisioned by a team from the California Polytechnic State University. This project, named Amelia, was developed with NASA and it combines three aircraft designs that normally conflicts with each other. I really liked the idea and wanted to see how it would look if we used some DNA from the 'C-Series' and come up with more advanced renderings.

How it works

The Antares looks like a normal aircraft, but it has a large wing that sits on top of the fuselage, similar to the Bombardier Q400. It would be equipped with two turbofan engines mounted on top and at the front of its oversized wing.

In the 1970s, NASA modified a De Havilland C-8A Buffalo to see how it would perform with engines mounted in this position. This STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) prototype, named QSRA, seemed to perform well. Click for a YouTube video where you see it land on an aircraft carrier.

(Also look at the Boeing YC-14. Mounting the engines on top and at the front of the wing could generate five to ten times more lift than on a conventional aircraft. It would also help reduce noise by 30 decibels or more – a major asset for the airline industry. One key challenge would be the pre-flight maintenance and accessibility of the power plant.

What it’s used for

The Antares could land and take-off on very short runways (3,000 feet, or 914 metres), allowing it to serve smaller airports and tap into new markets, similar to what the Canadair Regional Jet did back in 1992. The increase in lift and performance could potentially mean a lower cost per seat for the airline industry and a lower ticket price for passengers.

If you've been following the development of the C-Series, you know that it takes a lot of time and capital to develop a new plane. It also takes a lot of political and corporate support, because the risks are high, especially if you venture into new designs. In my opinion, a project like this should probably be developed in partnership with a large government. China, for example, has the capital needed to finance ventures of this magnitude. They are interested in growing their aircraft industry and they have proven that they can authorize, deploy and support projects of this scope. Most important of all, there are many cities in China with populations that exceeds one million people.

The design

Robin Ritter created the fantastic renderings of the Antares concept and verified some important some structural elements. Robin is based in Stuttgart and he has worked in the past at Porsche and Eurocopter.

Charles Bombardier is a member of the family that owns Quebec-based Bombardier Inc. and Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), which are in the business of designing and manufacturing vehicles. Bombardier left BRP in 2006 to work on his own ventures, and in March, 2013 he began to create his own concept vehicles and publish them on his website.

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