The Burnelli Web Site
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Our Readers Write:

A textbook case of why we should be flying in Burnelli designed planes:

This week I spent time exploring your Burnelli WebSite which is truly fantastic. The site is extremely informative and well-written. I have shared this with many people in New York, all of whom are fascinated by the story of Burnelli and his incredible aircraft designs. I think I should start in New York chapter of the Burnelli conspiracy.

Of course, I found story of Burnelli to be even more compelling given the recent crash in Arkansas. This seems to be a textbook case of why we should be flying Burnelli design planes. It is a tragedy the simple accidents such as an airplane crashing into light pole should cause loss of life. Something is wrong with this picture.

[Ed.-- As incredible as it may seem, there still are people out there who don't see the simplicity and the genius of Mr. Burnelli and are obstinate enough to continue denying that Mr. Burnelli was right all along.]



[This is the aircrash response to one of our readers - it includes his original comments in Courier Font.]

###Dear Mr. Rok

With respect to your email, here are the answers. Since most of your concerns were related to statements made by Dr. Cantilli, we contacted him and asked him if he had any comments. He was kind enough to take the time to address your concerns. You'll find his answers below marked with *** before and after his remarks. Our comments are preceded and end with ###.   Anything unmarked are your comments.


Hi, i've just read the following on your site: "In other words, if you total distances traveled by airplanes around airports, bus and intercity buses and trains are safer than flying commercial aircraft and if you total annual deaths due to transportation, subways are safer than flying. So much for the myth of flying-as-safest-mode-of-transportation!"

I believe you're making the facts sound well for what you want to prove.

***I believe you are ignoring the facts presented to you. As I'll show below.***

A few words about myself first - i am a student of aviation at Warsaw Institute of Technology, i've recently had a lecture on "Safety in technology" by prof. Tadeusz Szopa, quite a good specialist and well known in this branch. I'm taking the data from his book's new edition, soon to be published :).

It is true that there are many more car accidents than airplane accidents, when we divide the number of them by number of citizens in a country. To be more specific - in Poland, 1994, there were 0.2 casualties per million citizens in air transport, and 178 on the roads. This makes 8 people dead in air crashes, and 6764 in car accidents, in a year.

But what a person takes into account thinking about security, is his personal risk of loosing life.

***We don't believe people in general do think of their personal risk of losing their lives. If so, why do so many cross streets under dangerous circumstances? They are more apprehensive in airplanes because

  1. they are not driving
  2. the plane is high up in the air and when it falls you're dead.***

So let's take a look at it. According to a recent US study, there is a 0.29E-6/hour probability of loosing your life when riding a car as a passenger, compared to 0.30E-6 in an airplane,

***You seem to be making my case, if I understand your figures.***

It is a lot when you take a look at a train (0.05E-6) and a bus (0.03E-6), but all the transportation-related risks are surprisingly way lower than the risk everyone of us has to cope with - the chance of loosing life due to a disease (cardial, lounge cancer, flu, whatever), whis is equal to 1.00E-6/hour. What is worse - you ride a car for two hours a day, fly an airplane 20 hours a year, but you're subjected to a disease-related death for 24 hours a day.

***What does disease have to do with transportation safety?***

Back to the topic - flying an airplane is per hour as dangerous as riding a car.

***I don't understand the point being made here. I don't understand what "a 0.29E-6/hour probability of losing your life" means but you say above the airplane ride is o.30E-6 and the car ride 0.29E-6, which makes the airplane ride more dangerous, no?***

But that is not all. You said that most accidents happen while approaching an airport or on takeoff, compared to much safer cruising period, and therefore counting accidents per mile is incorrect. Remember what a passenger is interested in - he/she want to get safely to his/her destination, and that distance is counted in miles.

***No relationship between the two statements.***

If we follow this path, we should say that counting car accidents per mile is incorrect too, since it is much more probable that you would have an accident on crossroads, than on a highway. So why not count car accident risk in "per crossroads" or "per hour of bad weather"?

***Perfectly reasonable; one should do that if one is comparing safety records of modes. See below, where I tell you about the work done at Polytechnic University on this subject in 1979. But you didn't research the topic before making your pronouncements, did you?***

Finally, let's go back to the "per-mile" airplane accidents rate. What a passenger is interested in is to be safely moved from one place to another. All the risks should be counted compared to the benefits - just like you justify the risk of crossing a road next to your house by the benefit of bringing food from the grocery store and being able to eat it. So, if we take an example of a journey from Warsaw to Paris, which is ca. 2000 kilometers, we can cover this distance by car in 20 hours, or by airplane - in 2 hours. To be more accurate, let's say that it takes one hour by car to get to the airport, and one hour to go back from it at destination. And let's assume that the per-hour risk in both cases is equal to 0.30E-6, no matter if you are the passenger or the driver. This works in favor for the cars, so we can stay with it. The risk of losing your life on the car trip is 20h*0.3E-6, so 6 people in a milion travelling will die. On the airplane it is (2h+1h+1h)*0.3E-6, 1.2 people will loose their lifes. Which is better?

***Again, I do not understand your notation "20h*0.3E-6," but you cannot be saying that the common traveler (not a university student studying "aviation at Warsaw Institute of Technology") really thinks of his risk in numerical or even non-numerical terms when either driving his car or flying in an aircraft. And he certainly does not make comparisons.

The bases of my statements relative to the use of different rates measuring transportation safety are to be found in "Transportation Safety Index Applicable to All Modes," "Changing Baseline in Transportation Safety: An Assessment of Some Key Factors," and "Applicability of Behavior Theory to Transportation," in TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM SAFETY & PROJECT ANALYSIS, Transportation Research Record 709., Transportation Research Board, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, 1979.

What may also be of interest to you is "Behavioral Analysis of Verbal Interaction Between Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers," in AVIATION FORECASTING, PLANNING AND OPERATIONS, Transportation Research Record 732, Transportation Research Board, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, 1979.***

And finally, to the topic of your site. You say that crash-worthiness would work so miraculously, that it could significiantly lower the number of casualties in plane accidents. I tried to recall as many air crashes and accidents as i could type in 3 minutes - lets look how many could different if the plane was able to take a ground hit and let people out.

  • 1976 accident in Canaries (two 747s)
  • 1979 DC-10 in Chicago
  • 1981 accident in Warsaw (il-62m in Kabacki Woods)
  • 1997 TWA 800 crash near New York
  • Flight 1501 in southern USA two or three weeks ago
  • 1997 a 747 and a cargo colliding over India
  • 1993(?) 747 running into a residential building in Amsterdam
  • 1987 Lockerbie 747
  • 747 accident in Japan where a non-steerable a/c was flown for almost an hour until it hit a mountain, killin 585 people (no idea what year was that in). (time's up).

In my opinion, having a crash-resistant airplane would help in two cases out of 9. That is Flight 1501 (a plane rolling off the runway) and 1993 Amsterdam crash, perhaps (this was a high speed impact, don't think many could survive). My short poll is not representative, but i think it shows the proportion pretty well.

***You really haven't read my entire article or seen the entire website, have you? You force me to repeat material which is available to you.***

That is Flight 1501 ..... but i think it shows the proportion pretty well.

***It is my opinion that Burnelli-Type airplanes in all these cases (even the non-accident Lockerbie disaster) would have saved most of the lives lost.***

1976 accident in Canaries (two 747s)

***1) Because the entire plane is lifting surface the structure of a Burnelli is so much stronger than the conventional plane.

2)Because the fuel is only in the outer wings in a Burnelli and the engines are not on the fuel-tank structure the fire would not have been as immediate or all-enveloping or consuming. ***

1979 DC-10 in Chicago

***That DC-10 like all conventional planes went down.

  1. A Burnelli takes off and rises essentially level, "Like an elevator" according to one test pilot
  2. A Burnelli was the first plane to prove it could continue to climb on takeoff at the same rate with one engine as with two, and to land safely;
  3. the greater width of the Burnelli and placement of engines permit more redundancy and more widely separated redundant control lines, not side by side.***
  • 1981 accident ..... Woods)
  • 1997 TWA 800 crash near New York.

***Whether electrical malfunction or missile, the center fuel tank was where the disaster started. Since a Burnelli would not have such a tank, this particular incident could not have happened. ***

  • Flight 1501 ...... 1997
  • a 747 ..... 1993(?)
  • 747 1987 Lockerbie 747
  • 747 accident in Japan ..... killin 585 people (no idea what year was that in).

***Let me repeat: more lift means:

  1. Less power (and fuel) needed to take off
  2. Shorter takeoff and landing runway length
  3. Lower landing and takeoff speeds
  4. Ability to glide when engines fail
  5. Ability to carry greater loads meaning building strong fuselage around occupants and more redundancy, and stronger seat connections and non-flammable materials and on and on . . . . .
  6. Ability to have fuel separated from both occupants and engines and landing gear . If you give this serious thought you will see why my conclusion is the same: 85 percent of those people would not have died.***

First, the point about fuel.

I don't see the benefit of a flying body against a conventional structure. Your point that in a conventional a/c the fuel is stored under the passengers and close to the engines is a simple result of the choice made when locating the engines under wings.

***Fuel under the passengers is not fuel in the wings, it is fuel in the fuselage. Locating the engines under the wings is more than a "Simple result of the choice made," for the conventional plane it is a necessity--the fuselage structurally is weaker than the wings, which must carry the fuel, the fuselage, and the engines.***

There were many a/c in the history that had engines placed side-by-side on the tail, but this design was eventually dropped by all major manufactures. Reason? Fail-proofness.

***Are engines on the wings fail-proof?***

Economy forces a/c designers to lower the number of engines, eventually reaching 2 in 777. They won't go any lower, because one can fail with quite a high probability at this moment of technology development. Why not side-by-side? In most cases the engine failure either is caused by or leads to the disintegration of the turbine, with winglets being spread around at very high speed. I know at least two cases where the passengers would survive, if only the remaining engines weren't broken by the winglets from the failing turbine. Of course, there are no "pure" benefits. Engines mounted on wings create momentum in yaw axis, so whenever one fails it is more difficilt to keep the a/c flying where we want it to, and it forces the designers to make larger rudder surfaces (which hits economy through increased drag).

***Suffice it for me to say that the modern conventional plane is a series of adjustments made in design choices, to make as much money as possible at the expense of the passengers and crew. Please read all of my article. You are making arguments built on very little knowledge.***

Second, the gear collapse case. You wrote:

>Unlike it's 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,
< DIV > >don't get ripped off the wings and < /DIV > < DIV > >consequently don't cause a fire. < /DIV >

This works only if the crash is caused by a gear-up landing. If the gear collapses because of extensive vertical speed, the wings would collapse too and hit the ground anyway.

***Rather labored reasoning. Burnelli had designed a plane in the 1930s which could jettison its wings in such a case.***

More problems. The real difference between a flying body (like the one shown at, and a conventional passenger jet ( isn't so big.

***Wrong. It's very big. And that is hardly a scientific statement you make.***

What you show on the picture is a delta-wing plane,

***Wrong. Not a delta-wing plane.***

with canards, compared to classic steering surfaces configuration in a wide-body jet. If we take the irrelevant differences out (wide-body

***Wrong. Big difference between Burnelli and wide-body***

###The difference between a Burnelli and a wide-body is clearly demonstrated on the web-site. Furthermore, Lifting-body aircraft can have a variety of different wings depending on the mission role as is shown on the web-site.###

can be used with delta+canards, as well as a flying body can be used with plain swept wings) they surprisingly don't differ much! What we have is a rectangular shape in pitch/yaw surface, and plain wing shaped in yaw/roll surface body, compared to a tube. The rectangular shape has some disbenefits - just like durability problems, larger weight of structure needed to hold it in place, larger induced drag, and so on. Planes evolve by technology, results being counted by more money or better performance (meaning more money anyway), not by politics. The perfect example (noted by you anyway) is F-15 and, even better, F-22 - being an evolution of the body to give greater lift, but actually coming from the fact that engines had to be places near rotation axis, to give better roll speed.

Finally, the "How a Safer Airliner Might Look" example. I wonder if anyone really gave this a serious thought. What is obvious to me when i look at this project (although i'm specializing in avionics, not structural design) is:

  • the engines are located side by side, meaning the risk of one destroying the other the wings are so small and thin they won't keep all the fuel needed
  • the structure of main body will be heavy, having to hold a large surface.
  • engines would be noisy
  • large drag from thick airfoil on most of the lifting surface

***I don't think you have seen all parts of the website. You throw out superficial statements based on little knowledge. What you have a surfeit of is gall, what we call here in the U.S. "chutzpah." Burnelli built nine planes on his principle, they were all tested, they all flew, and your arguments are not well-considered. Also the website shows a number of "planes of the future" proposed by Boeing and Aerospatiale that look like the Burnelli. Explain me that!***

People wouldn't like to fly this airplane, because: (except for the fact that they wouldn't trust that it flies :) )BR>- most passenger seats would be far away from emergency exits
- most passengers would sit far away from nearest windows (this is not a small problem, Concorde initially was to be windowless, but marketing people said "no way" :) )

***Now you are in the realm of psychology--or para-psychology.***

I don't think it is a good idea to ask interior designers and safety specialists to design an airplane. To me, it is just like asking a car interior designer to make a faster car - they really do not care about the engine, they don't even have to worry if it'll ever fly.

***I don't think it's a good idea for students to assume that their limited knowledge is of greater weight than the knowledge of their professors in a subject, and that their puerile opinions are of any interest at all.***

Have you managed to find at least one more scientific person saying things like these? You keep on quoting prof. Cantilli, just like if he was the only air safety expert in the world...

***Perhaps more significant is the fact that no scientific person has taken exception to my statements since they appeared in print in 1982. Have you managed to get the opinion of one of your professors in this matter? I would expect that they have enough sense not to offer opinions about this subject until they have thoroughly researched it.***

> Michal Rok, [web-site address deleted]

> If brute force doesn't work, you ain't using enough!

***Is this Mr. Rok's motto? It sounds like the motto of the designers of conventional aircraft: Minimal wings providing minimal lift, huge, weak fuselage providing no lift, and brute force to get that thing up there. The trouble is, if something goes wrong it comes down like a rock--not an airplane.***

***I give you a C-minus for your effort. As the great Yogi named Berra put it, most succinctly, "It's deja vu all over again."***

###Mr Rok, we have not solely relied on Dr. Cantilli for his expert opinion but we publish much of what he has to say because of his extensive background in the field of aircraft safety and the fact that he is able to articulate his views in a common sense, down to earth fashion. The web-site contains the remarks of many other experts such as General Arnold, Dr. Alexander Klemin, Dr. Michael Watter, Dr. Teichmann, and Mr. Jean Roche, the U.S.A.F. Chief of Airplane Design for 43 years, not to mention retired Boeing Senior Vice President Ken Luplow and many others.

As Dr. Cantilli said, you have obviously not carefully viewed the complete web-site and we recommend that you do.

Furthermore, as your letter raised some interesting questions, we have posted this email to our web-site, at

[Note to our readers: If you would like to have questions answered please be specific and itemize your questions in a relatively simple form, as opposed to above - we will not bother Dr. Cantilli or anyone else regarding information contained on the site.



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