Lifting Body is the SAFEST type of aircraft, providing
better protection for passengers and crew. Just as it is
in cars, maintaining the integrity of the structure in an accident is
vital. On conventional aircraft a mere 15% of the aircraft structure
surrounds the passengers. On lifting body aircraft 65% of the aircraft
structure surrounds passengers; thus more structure = more strength =
more safety. The lifting body design has more structure around the
passenger without any penalty in payload. As stated by its very name, the body/fuselage
carries much of its own weight.
This is not merely theory, it has been proven. Furthermore, common sense and engineering principles will confirm that a strong
fuselage which protects passengers during a crash will prevent
most deaths when compared to the current alternative. A Burnelli UB-14 crash in 1935 at 130 mph proved the
fact. [Click here for Video(+audio) of Crash - 2MB] (Video tape is better in quality - see VIDEO in the Introduction section of main site for more info on how to get video.) [Click here for Crash Report]
The Burnelli Lifting Body is also THE MOST EFFICIENT means of air transportation. Every year engineers who have never heard of Mr. Burnelli or of his Lifting Body try to "re-invent" the principle!
In 1920, Mr. Burnelli conceived the idea of replacing the dead weight conventional fuselage with an aerofoil fuselage which would provide its own lift and not be entirely dependent upon the outboard wing panels. This revolutionary invention was pregnant with many highly beneficial side effects which are detailed throughout the pages of this web site.
In 1947, NACA (now NASA) conducted wind tunnel
testing on a Burnelli design and concluded that there was no
significant advantage to the Lifting Body. This was an outright lie.
The report should have ended like this:
"While the aerodynamic study showed similar cruising speeds for the Burnelli and the conventional designs for a given power, the Burnelli design provided virtually double the payload, double the internal cubic volume and double the usable floor area. The Burnelli design showed take-off and landing speeds considerably less than the conventional. Furthermore, the Burnelli configuration showed that the fuselage contained approx. 65% of the aircraft structure, which served to offer a safety cage to protect the occupants in the event of a crash. Also, the engines and landing gear, the major fire sources, are attached to the robust fuselage, isolating them from close proximity to the fuel supply. Low take-off and landing speeds mean less stress on the tires, low noise level on take-offs and the ability to use short runways, therefore, drastically increasing safety. The economic benefits accruing from these many important Burnelli features are huge."
In terms of safety, the conventional aircraft is
a disaster when it comes to fuel alone. Fuel is stored in the wings,
directly above the sources of flame (the engines) and under the
passengers in the center of the aircraft (this was the fuel tank
which exploded in TWA Flight #800). Some of the newer aircraft even
store fuel in the horizontal tail fins. In case of accident,
passengers are surrounded by fuel - alongside and behind and below
(when gravity and the directional momentum of the aircraft are taken
into account, this leads to most passengers being encircled by
In case the landing gear of a conventional jet
collapses during a landing or a crash, the aircraft is going down
the runway on its belly. With the engines and landing gear in direct
line with the fuel spill from the wings or center tank rupture,
ignition is only a matter of time.
On Burnelli aircraft, the fuel tanks are only in
the wings, with no fuel under or behind the passengers. The
landing-gear is retracted into the body which is the main structure
of the aircraft. Furthermore, the engines are on the top rear-most
portion of the aircraft, away from the fuel tanks. All of the most
volatile components have been isolated.
Unlike its conventional "counterpart,"
the Burnelli designed airplane, in the case of a crash or landing-gear
collapse, will be riding down the runway on a flat fuselage.
The fuel is safely stored in the wings. During a crash landing,
the engines, at the back of the aircraft, don't get ripped off
the wings and consequently don't cause a fire.
Nine of Burnelli's airplanes were built between 1921 and 1945;
more were designed but never built. The Burnelli CBY-3, built in
1945, was the last to be built even though its performance was
Vincent Justus Burnelli, in 1963, also designed supersonic aircraft
such as the one depicted on the next page, the GB-888A.