AIRTRAIN: AN AIRCRAFT TECHNOLOGY GROUND TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM

The AIRTRAIN is essentially an aircraft flying at near-ground level and guided by a double-rail overhead beam. At low speeds the rail provides support by means of a set of electrically powered wheels ("trucks") which are moved into position against the rail. Electric power is supplied from wayside stations to a conductor on the rail-beam. At speeds above about 80 mph the aerodynamic surfaces generate sufficient lift to make the craft airborne, turbofan engines provide propulsion, and the rail serves as a guide. In the flying mode, contact with the rail is through a pair of "airbearings" which fit loosely around the rail and generate centering forces by means of air flowing radially inward the rail. The airbearing also houses proximity sensors which feed signals into a control system to actuate movable aerodynamic surfaces. Rail suspension is provided by a series or arched supports along the right-of-way, with the rail-beam having hinged connections for some flexibility of roll position, particularly in turns. The AIRTRAIN may be flown at heights of 30 to 40 feet above terrain surface or to clear existing traffic patterns, or the vehicle may be partially trenched to take advantage of ground effect to supplement the aerodynamic lift and reduce wind gusts.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Planning Transport Associates, Incorporated

    P.O. Box 4824, Duke Station
    Durham, NC  USA  27706
  • Authors:
    • Lehl, E L
    • Zumwalt, G W
  • Publication Date: 0

Media Info

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00095248
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Engineering Index
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 15 1975 12:00AM