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Plane With Flapping Wings
Status: Undetermined
image I'm no aeronautical engineer, so I'm not qualified to say if the plane featured on the website of JCR Technology could fly or not, though it sure doesn't look to me like it would ever get off the ground. Apparently it's supposed to fly by means of eight flapping wings, located on either side of the plane. The website is entirely in French, so I can't determine if this is simply some kind of thought experiment, or a real plane that someone is trying to build. Definitely check out the computer-graphic simulations of the plane flying (look under the 'images' tab). Even in the simulations, it doesn't look like it could fly. There's a photostream on Flickr showing a crosssection of this plane being displayed at the Salon International des Inventions in Geneva, which seems to be a convention for people with crazy inventions.
Technology
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 10, 2006
Looks like something from a Miyazaki film..

Ornithopter-style planes have been thought up for years.. Main problem being that moving that much mass takes energy. While it might work, it sure as hell wouldn't be efficient, or quiet.

Personally, what I'm interested in is some reasearch that's been done on 'semi-dirigibles'.. half plane, half airship. Relies on lift gas but also a bit of speed to keep it up, but allows for much larger cabin section.
Posted by Robin Bobcat  in  Californian Wierdo  on  Mon Apr 10, 2006  at  02:36 AM
There have been a lot of succesfull (model) ornithopters built, and you can even buy a compressed air powered version, but all of them relied on them being launched by some power source. When people have tried to take off using the wings, as they approach takeoff speed, the ornithopter starts hopping up and down, and this wrecks the undercarriage.
Posted by eg  in  england  on  Mon Apr 10, 2006  at  04:30 AM
Alex, try running the page through Babel Fish. The translations are by no means perfect, but it should help you understand what it says.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Apr 10, 2006  at  04:53 AM
Alex, maybe the webmasters of these websites can tell you more:
http://www.ornithopter.org/
http://www.ornithopter.org/birdflight/
Posted by Henri  on  Mon Apr 10, 2006  at  08:52 AM
I really don't see how they could get this to work for an aircraft using only those "wings" shown on their working models as a motive force, unless it is something like a dirigible. The wings have far too little surface area. The website compares the way they work to those of insects such as dragonflies and butterflies, but that's not a valid comparison. First, those insects have very lightweight bodies and a very large relative wing surface area. And also, most insects flex their wings in flight to increase lift (that's how bumblebees are able to get off the ground); the wings on this aircraft are very thick, rigid, narrow and short.

Sure, helicopters also have a small airfoil surface area compared to their weight, but then that's a completely different motion from these wing-paddle things.

They haven't discovered any new principles of aerodynamics or made any breakthroughs in technology. They just claim that, if they wave those wings fast enough and in the right sequence, then they can get airborne. Which is exactly the same technique tried by people for centuries, without success.

They do mention that they think this will work well for submarines and boats, and for that it very well might. It would be just like using oars. They also mention using it on land vehicles, which seems rather fanciful to me. What really makes me wonder, though, is where they mention using this technology for spaceflight in a vacuum. That's such complete nonsense that it makes me question the rest of their work.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Mon Apr 10, 2006  at  10:37 AM
Here is some interesting information.
I checked out and found the interview article of JCR Cameroon origin inventor (French site buta-connection.net ). JCR presented this concept inspired by insect flying at famous Bourget Air show last year (I checked it, it is true) but the authorities did not give them permit to fly JCR002 with human pilot, so they just exhibited the static model of JCR001.
According to the inventor, this plane with vertical take-off/landing capacity is safer and less noisy than ordinary plane and may attract many people of his continent who cannot afford traveling in jetplane.

I doubt strongly this plane could really fly with today's technology
Posted by katy kurione  in  France  on  Mon Apr 10, 2006  at  01:55 PM
Darn it! I wanted to be the first to translate it from french. I've taken all my classes in french for nine years and never get to use it.
Posted by Dracul  on  Mon Apr 10, 2006  at  03:09 PM
For what I have seen, using my French, they have several claims about the new technology that don't waste time proving (it's safer, better, cheaper, etc), all they have to show is diagrams and a non-working section of the plane with one wing on each side and very pretty seats inside, some lame escuse about not being authorized to show a working/flying model, and then several requests to buy actions of their company... looks like a scam to me. Either that or they are delusional.
Posted by JP Mota  in  Portugal  on  Mon Apr 10, 2006  at  06:48 PM
orry: by "actions", I mean "stocks" as in "stock exchange".
Posted by JP Mota  in  Portugal  on  Mon Apr 10, 2006  at  06:52 PM
I can fly and I don
Posted by Unfairly Balanced  in  Earth  on  Tue Apr 11, 2006  at  10:47 AM
I am an aerospace engineer (as are some of the other responders, judging from their comments).

This is clearly a joke. Aerodynamically speaking it is not even an attractive brick. Being so obviously a joke, please take my comments purely in the spirit of scientific conjecture. I wouldn
Posted by JD  in  El Seguundo  on  Tue Apr 11, 2006  at  11:27 AM
it's a scam ... a well conceived one but still a scam, this is not able to fly. they go toward people in africa and try to get money from them to fullfill there 'project' with presentation using words common people don't understand trying to impress them.
Posted by julien  in  france  on  Wed Apr 12, 2006  at  08:12 AM
I can fly too!
Posted by hello hello  in  california  on  Wed Apr 12, 2006  at  01:40 PM
Ooo Ooo pick me pick me i can fly too
Posted by qtpi  in  BLAH  on  Wed Apr 12, 2006  at  01:43 PM
Yes, it is complete crap - I saw the cabin section mock-up in Geneva, surrounded by earnest-looking crackpots or conmen (or both).

However, the wing design does have one interesting feature: the metal wing frame has flexible segments hanging down from the underside sort of like steps on a ladder. This means that on the downsweep, the flexible segments are pressed against the frame to create a closed surface. On the upsweep, the segments open up to allow air to pass through, thus creating much less drag/downward lift than on the downsweep.

But of course the design is still complete garbage. Even if enough power could be generated, the wings would shake themselves to bits at the required speeds. Perhaps the nicest thing to say is that it might work underwater as a flapping submarine.
Posted by batman  on  Wed Apr 12, 2006  at  06:28 PM
Wow. They really expect people to believe that thing will fly?
Their translator's not very good either. See "air immobilisation" (hovering?), "very big portance" (importance?), "very weak congestion" (slight nasal problems?). And don't forget "conviviality" and "evolutivity," which, AFAIK, are not words at all!
Posted by Ian  on  Thu Apr 13, 2006  at  02:17 AM
Strange phone number for Delaware.

JCR TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION
3500 SOUTH DUPONT HIGHWAY
DOVER , DE 19901, USA.
Tel/Fax : (00 1) 302 213 91 61
Posted by jd  on  Fri Apr 14, 2006  at  11:11 AM
No, I take that back. That is Delaware's area code. Still, this hardly seems like a website written by anyone for whom English is their mother tongue.
Posted by dd  on  Fri Apr 14, 2006  at  11:14 AM
Ennemies of new things are the old things, or a lack of humility. I also was in geneva, there was a great demonstration on saturday 08 april at 12h, a dynamics lift of their jcr oo2, proving that it work, since the force created by the flapping of two wings(25 kgx2)could lift up an engine of 600 kg with just a 125 horse power motor! in front of cameras, public measured a lift of 12 cm and 14.5 cm!!!It's a fact, nobody need to believe a scientific fact!

I saw the following contribution some where on this web site...

"Real Discoveries Dismissed as Hoaxes
Status: Not Hoaxes
A few days ago the Financial Times ran a brief list of major technological breakthroughs that were either ignored or ridiculed. This raises an interesting issue: the danger of over-skepticism, or dismissing startling new discoveries as hoaxes simply because one refuses to believe that anything new or out-of-the-ordinary can be real. I can't find a link to the FT story, but here's a summary of their list:

The Wright Brothers' discovery of flight: "When two American bicycle repairmen claimed to have built the world's firstaircraft in 1903, they were dismissed as cranks. Newspapers refused to send reporters or photographers to witness any of the flights. More than two years later, Scientific American magazine was still insisting that the story was a hoax. By that time, the Wright brothers had completed a half-hour flight covering 24 miles."

Steam Turbine Propulsion: "The claim of Irish engineer Charles Parsons to have developed a radically new form of marine propulsion was scorned by the Admiralty, until his steam turbine vessel made an unauthorised appearance at the 1897 Spithead naval review going at 37 knots - faster than any other vessel in the fleet."

Atoms as a source of energy: "The idea that atoms could be a source of energy millions of times more potent than coal or oil was dismissed by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ernest Rutherford as "moonshine"."

Amorphous semiconductor materials: "During the 1950s, self-taught American physicist Stanford Ovshinsky found a way of creating materials lacking a regular crystal structure - an achievement dismissed as impossible by scientists. They are now standard components in devices ranging from flat-panel displays to solar cells."

Lasers: "While developing the technology behind the laser, American physicist Charles Townes was approached by two Nobel-Prize-winning colleagues who told him he was wasting his time and threatening their funding. Even after the first laser was built in 1960, it was described as "a solution looking for a problem"."

The Scanning Tunnelling Microscope: "The Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM), invented by scientists at IBM in Zurich in the early 1980s, now plays a key role in fields ranging from biology to nanotechnology. But many scientists remained deeply suspicious of the claims made for the STM until its inventors won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1986."
Posted by Severin  in  paris, france  on  Mon Apr 17, 2006  at  06:29 AM
I love airplanes, one reason I joined the Ari Force, and ornithoptors predate the Wright brothers and have never worked. Never as in not once. This "plane" reminds me of Caproni's Ca.60 Noviplano in terms of the sheer number of wings. Anthony Fokker got a plane in the air with five (fixed) wings, perhaps on a bet, but nothing with more wings than that has flown. So, this thing would fail on two well tested principles. The induced drag from the turbulence created by flapping those wings would negate any lift/thrust that might possibly happen from the wings after the first set. Hoax/scam.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Thu Apr 20, 2006  at  09:21 PM
Never worked ????
Thee are dozens of successful RC ornithopters flying every day.....and there are several teams around the world working on full-size, manned ornithopters. We have already achieved unassisted lift-offs and are on the verge of successful, sustained flight.
Here's the URL to the video of one of the lift-off tests of the U Of T ornithopter C-GPTR for which I was the test pilot.
http://www.ornithopter.net/images/full-scale.mpg

There are also people working on tandem wing designs which will improve efficiency by capturing the wake shed by the front wing with the leading edge of the rear wing. Far from destroying lift , it will increase it, if done properly.

However, regarding the picture at the top of the page of the multi-winged aircraft.....it certainly does seem to be a hoax that would be incapable of flight due to the design, construction and size of the wings and overall poor design. I agree that it might make a decent underwater vehicle but I can't see it soaring the skies !
Posted by PJB  in  Canada  on  Fri Apr 21, 2006  at  03:55 PM
PJB, I have no idea about RC planes I was refering to full-sized planes. Perhaps brute force might work on something the size of an RC plane but once you scale it up you run into real problems. A bird's wing (a bat's also I think) does a lot more than just go up and down. The wing not only changes angle-of-attack but changes the airfoil and shape as well. The bird does this by flexing muscles in the wing to change the airfoil and move the fingers to the desired position. To do this non-biologically would require many controls and servos, and would weigh too much, plus the computers needed to control the constant changes would weight too much. Makes me wonder why "bird-brain" is a derogatory phrase. Something the size of an RC plane might have the thrust/weight ratio for the relatively simple controls needed to flap and change angle-of-attack wich might work on a brute-force basis but once you scale up, the power needed for the extra controls/servos would get huge.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Fri Apr 21, 2006  at  10:31 PM
PJB, sorry about the double post but after I finished my last post and left the site, I realized you mentioned being a test pilot on an experimental ornithopter. I haven't looked at the video but did you get out of ground-effect? Lots of experimental planes have worked until they got above ground-effect, the "flying bedstead" from Rolls-Royce and the Avrocar come to mind.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Fri Apr 21, 2006  at  11:01 PM
I was referring to full-size , piloted [ie: manned] ornithopters too. I only referred to RC ornithopters in passing. During the past 15 years there has been a tremendous amount of research done in the field of flapping wing flight by both universities and private researchers. We are well aware of the highly complex wing kinematics of birds , bats and insects [and pterosaurs especially Quetzalcoatlus northropi which with a wingspan of approx' 36 feet was the size of a small aircraft].

Many different methods of research are being used from actual observation and high speed video in a wing tunnel to robotic flappers to CFD and we now have a very good picture of the flapping wing kinematics and dynamics of birds, bats and insects.

Unfortunately most of this research is directed towards producing MAVs.
However there are a few groups around the world currently working on full-size, piloted [ie: 'manned'] ornithopters. Todays ornithopters are sophisticated aircraft with aeroelastically tailored wings designed to twist and bend appropriately during the flapping cycle. Even so, it would be impossible to replicate the wing kinematics of a bird or bat and so we choose those that we think most important for the higher Re of a full-size aircraft. eg variable stroke plane angle, active pitch control of the spar etc etc.

There are many problems to be overcome to successfully sustain flight in a full-size ornithopter...and this is why it hasn't been done yet !! The University Of Toronto has been testing a full-size ornithopter since 1996. I was the first test- pilot and did all the prototype testing up to the maximum speed of 56mph and including the first lift-offs [we accelerated unassisted [ie using the ornithopter's own engine] from zero to lift-off speed 50mph and then intentionally lifted off]
It took 2 years of testing to achieve this. The problem, of course, is the high speed bouncing of an ornithopter.
We did not go out of ground effect.
The U Of T 'Project Ornithopter' website URL is http://www.ornithopter.net I was their test pilot for 7 years . I resigned eventually in order to work full time on my own design which I hope to start testing this summer.

Some researchers are completely bypassing the problems of take-off by simply towing the ornithopter aloft. This doesn't prove anything in my view.
Posted by PJB  in  Canada  on  Sat Apr 22, 2006  at  05:04 AM
Severin, just because several seemingly ridiculous claims have turned out to be true, it doesn't follow that every ridiculous claim made is true.

(OK, so I stole that from Carl Sagan. So sue me grin )
Posted by eovti  in  Sandefjord, Norway  on  Tue Apr 25, 2006  at  08:42 AM
Approximately in 1995 an aeroclub located in Ural mountains area in Russia constructed
and tested a plane with flapping wing drive only, without propellers, without jet motors.
During a test this plane with one pilot on board took off and flied approximately 750 meters in air.
Posted by Mati  in  Estonia  on  Sat Jun 03, 2006  at  03:55 AM
Wow! smile They in reality look ahead to people to consider that thing will get wing?
Their translator's not especially good either. See "air check" (hovering?), "very big portico" (importance?), "very weak congestion" (slight nasal problems?)! And don't fail to remember "conviviality" and "volatility," which, AFAIK, are not terms at every!
Posted by Nathan Smith  on  Thu Mar 24, 2011  at  02:46 AM
ha, @eoviti, nice quote from Carl Sagan. I've used that one lots of times too, love it.
Posted by Zach  on  Mon Jun 27, 2011  at  01:52 PM
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