In this fascinating book, Dr András Sóbester narrates the past, present , and future of stratospheric flight and gives a detailed analysis of the science behind it.
The book is divided into four parts. The first chapter in Part I describes the race for stratospheric passenger travel, the story of the Comet 1, and the loss of G-ALYP and G-ALYY, as well as fatigue design and testing today. The second chapter continues with the transatlantic race and the limits of commercial long distance flight, including information on Steve Fossett and the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer as well as stratospheric balloon flight. Chapter 3 looks at Concorde and the design challenges of high altitude passenger transport, including Space Shuttle maneuvers in the stratosphere. This part ends with an analysis of airspeed margins in stratospheric flight, as well as flight in low density air and jet engine operation, including stalling, at high altitude.
Part II opens with a chapter on the design considerations for emergency descents. Chapter 6 looks at unpressurized flight, as well as gliding, in the stratosphere, while the following chapter considers hypoxia and its effects. The remaining two chapters in this part consider cabin air systems, the cost of air conditioning, ice at high altitude, and the short and long term health effects of stratospheric flight on air- and cabin crew.
The first two chapters in Part III look at outside the airplane: the weather, tropical storms, temperature shears, and clear air turbulence. The environmental impact of stratospheric flight is considered, including the effect on the ozone layer and the use of biofuels at low temperatures. Part IV looks at the way ahead and considers flight in the upper stratosphere, commercial suborbital flights, and unmanned missions to the stratosphere. The book ends with an analysis of the future of stratospheric flight.
This book thus shows that, beyond the solved and unsolved design riddles and forensic engineering efforts to understand flaws, the modern stratospheric airliner is an incomparably complex, wondrous and awe-inspiring engineering achievement.
"I have put in many hours looking out of airliner windows, even more in aircraft design offices and years test flying but this book fascinated me and taught me a lot." - John Farley
Dr. Andras Sobester is an aerospace engineering lecturer at the University of Southampton in the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment. He holds a Research Fellowship funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research council. The remit of the Fellowship is to investigate technologies for the reduction of the environmental impact of the next generation of passenger airliners. In particular, his research is aimed at the design of airframe surfaces for minimizing the noise footprint of aircraft, while maintaining their performance.
His other research areas include high altitude flight (including lighter-than-air systems), the multi-disciplinary design optimization of aircraft, the mathematical description of geometries used in aerospace engineering, as well as machine learning technologies underpinning the use of high fidelity computer simulations in aircraft design.