Title:
Airplane training and amusement device for traveling on a fixed track
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An airplane training or amusement device for traveling along a fixed track comprises airplanes forcibly guided along a driving rail supported above the ground on track supports, and driven by the pilot at various speeds. The airplane track is associated with leisure use, but it can also be associated with the use of individual personal transport.



Inventors:
Henne, Kurt (Stetten a.k.M, DE)
Application Number:
10/098271
Publication Date:
12/12/2002
Filing Date:
03/15/2002
Assignee:
HENNE KURT
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
472/130
International Classes:
A63G7/00; (IPC1-7): A63G31/16
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, KIEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COLLARD & ROE, P.C. (ROSLYN, NY, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An airplane track comprising: a plurality of rails supported by a framework construction located at least several meters above ground level, said rails extending as a horizontal railway track over a distance of several kilometers; and a least one vehicle guided on the rails.

2. The railway track according to claim 1, wherein the vehicle contains a control permitting at least one passenger to drive the vehicle on the track by himself.

3. The airplane track according to claim 1, wherein the vehicle comprises a connecting truck on one of its underside or top side for guiding the vehicle on the rails.

4. The airplane track according to claim 1, wherein the framework construction supporting the rails is designed so that the vehicle is guided suspended on the rails or riding on the rails.

5. The airplane track according to claim 1, wherein the framework construction is formed by approximately vertical framework supports, with the rails being secured on top sides of said supports.

6. The airplane track according to claim 1, wherein the framework construction is formed by approximately vertical framework supports and crossbeams resting on said supports, whereby each crossbeam is supported by two framework supports and the spacing between the framework supports is greater than the width of a wing span of the vehicle.

7. The airplane track according to claim 6, wherein the rails are secured on a tubular lattice-work construction, said lattice-work construction being secured on the framework supports or on the top sides of the crossbeams.

8. The airplane track according to claim 1, wherein the vehicle comprises a 4-seater, single-engine airplane with original equipment.

9. The airplane track with rail-borne vehicles according to claim 3, wherein the connecting truck comprises a rigid axle, a connecting part and a swivel axle.

10. The airplane track according to claim 1, wherein the vehicle is guided on the rails on wheels.

11. The airplane track according to claim 9, wherein the vehicles are guided on the rails on running wheels, guide wheels, and counter wheels, mounted on ends of axles of the connecting truck.

12. The airplane track according to claim 9, further comprising skids arranged near the wheels, such skids sliding on the rail in case of loss or wear of a wheel, preventing derailing.

13. The airplane track according to claim 9, further comprising metal sheets arranged in front of or behind the wheels for protecting the wheels.

14. The airplane track according to claim 1, wherein the vehicle has wings and wherein a profile the wings is designed to prevent or minimize lift of the vehicle.

15. The airplane track according to claim 1, wherein the doors of the vehicle cannot be opened while the vehicle is moving.

16. The airplane track according to claim 1 wherein the vehicle is stopped via radio signals from a control station in the event of an emergency.

17. The airplane track according to claim 1, wherein the vehicle can be driven at a speed of over 30 km/h.

18. The airplane track according to claim 1, wherein the vehicle can be driven at a top speed of at least 200 km/h.

19. The airplane track according to claim 5, wherein the spacing of the framework supports between each other along the railway track amounts to at least 30 m and the rails have a minimum height of 6 m above the ground level.

20. The airplane track according to claim 1, wherein the vehicle is monitored via position detection systems from a control station and braked or accelerated.

21. The airplane track according to claim 20, wherein the track is divided in section blocks, in which only one vehicle may move, wherein before a vehicle enters a section block, an automatic radio query takes place addressed to the control station as to whether the section block is clear for driving, and the vehicle is braked by the control station.

22. The airplane track according to claim 20, further comprising two-way radio communication between the vehicle and the control station.

23. The airplane track according to claim 1, wherein the vehicle is equipped with a system for approximation measurements in order to determine the distance between the vehicle and another vehicle and to trigger braking and shutoff of the vehicle.

24. The airplane track according to claim 1, further comprising at least one roof-covered station for embarking on and disembarking from the vehicles, wherein several vehicles can line up in the station one after the other.

25. The airplane track according to claim 1, further comprising a siding for maintenance work and for varying the number of vehicles operating on the track, wherein the siding is reached via a secured switch.

Description:

[0001] This application is based on provisional application No. 60/277,031, filed on Mar. 19, 2001.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] This invention relates to an apparatus consisting of an airplane training or amusement device for traveling along a fixed track. In the track, airplanes are forcibly guided along a driving rail supported above the ground on track supports, and driven by the pilot at various speeds.

[0004] The airplane track is associated with leisure use, but it can also be associated with the use of individual personal transport.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] Single or multi-seat aircraft can be driven on the rail, below the rail, or simultaneously both on and below the trail. The scheduled maximum speed is 165 km/h (102.5 mph); however 200 km/h is conceivable as well. Many people own a driver's license, but only a few have a private pilot's license. The airplane track provides people with an opportunity to become familiar with the genuine feeling of flying or to fly an airplane on their own. Because the pilot can drive at individual speeds ranging from 0 to 165 km/h on the airplane track, a block and control system is installed that will prevent rear-end collisions involving two or more aircraft. Preferably, closed courses will be driven. However, a shuttle course (aircraft drives back on the same course) is possible as well.

[0006] It is therefore an object of the invention to provide an airplane training and amusement device for traveling on a fixed track.

[0007] To simulate the feeling of genuine flying, one type of aircraft is selected, preferably a 4-seater, single-engine type with its original engine, cockpit and cabin interior. For the fuselage and the wings, it is preferable to use a material that cannot be dented by a person's hand, or scratched by inexperienced people having access to the aircraft in the station. The visual appearance of an original aircraft must be preserved at the same time.

[0008] The fuselage is supported in three locations downwards or upwards. These supports transmit all loads from the airframe to a separate undercarriage. This undercarriage is designed to function similar to the construction of vehicles for roller coasters.

[0009] The undercarriage comprises a rigid axle, a connecting part, and a jointed or pivotable axle. This jointed axle is designed so that ramps, curves with longitudinal gradients and curves with a cross gradient can be passed free of squeezing or wedging. The airframe of the aircraft is supported in two places on the rigid axle, and once within the zone of the swiveling axle. A running wheel with a diameter of ≧500 mm, a guide wheel with a diameter of ≧400 mm and a counter wheel with a diameter of ≧300 mm are mounted on each of the rigid and the jointed axles. The guide wheels discharge all positive vertical loads that are perpendicular to the rail. The running wheels discharge the horizontal loads which are parallel with the rail. The counter wheels discharge the negative loads that are perpendicular to the trail. Derailing of the aircraft is consequently not possible.

[0010] The wheels are preferably polyurethane. Skids are employed within the zone of all three types of wheels. These skids prevent derailing in case of excessive wear or loss of a wheel, and permit the aircraft to continue sliding on the rail. Sheet metal plates are placed in the front and rear of all three types of wheels, which move or clear obstacles from the rails so as to prevent the aircraft from driving over such obstacles and clamping them between the wheels and the rail. only one running guide and counter wheel each is provided on the outer sides of the axles instead of the twin wheels arranged like a rocker on roller coasters, because the radii are so large that side slip of the wheels plays a subordinated role, and track gauge narrowing becomes negligible for the guide wheels.

[0011] Furthermore, the following structural components have to be integrated in the undercarriage:

[0012] A braking system (e.g. permanent magnets), a vertical braking fin, and another vertical fin for transporting the aircraft within the station and on the sidings or parking rails. The latter function is assumed by the braking fin as well. The vertical fins are as long as the aircraft so that buffers can be arranged in front and in the rear in order to prevent damage to the aircraft in the event airplanes collide in the station or on the parking rail or rail sidings. Towing eyes and switching flags are also provided.

[0013] The profile of the wings is neutral or has a maximum lift of 1× g based on the weight of the aircraft plus payload, but without the undercarriage, at v=165 km/h. A certain lift is deemed desirable because it reduces the friction between the wheels of the undercarriage and the rail. However, the counter wheels do run up during operation. The wing span of the aircraft suspended under the rail is small, so that the frame supports are not too wide. The engine output of the airplane has to take into account the weight of the undercarriage and the frictional forces between the wheels and the weight of the undercarriage of about 800 kg. Friction loss is about 2 cm/m; and swivel axis is ±6°. A luggage compartment is provided on board, holding about 50 kg luggage.

[0014] The passengers are secured by seat belts and the doors are locked during the drive so that they cannot be opened accidentally. Hence, the door locks are operated only by the pilot, and the doors are locked prior to starting, unlocking only in the station and from the outside by manual unlocking, or in an emergency (aircraft standing still) unlocking via radio.

[0015] There is radio contact from the control tower with each airplane, and from each airplane to the control tower, with a loudspeaker available in the aircraft. The fire hazard of the aircraft is kept as low as possible. Although smoking is prohibited, a fire extinguisher is arranged within reach of the pilot. A rope ladder with a length of at least the greatest height of the rail above ground is located within the area of each door. It is possible to stop the aircraft by radio from the control tower in case of emergency, such as by shutting of the ignition and/or by interrupting the feed of fuel. It would be advantageous for the operation of the installation if the content of the fuel tank suffices for one day. For safety reasons, the engine of the aircraft can be started only after the doors are closed, and not within the entire area of the station and the parking rail.

[0016] The following are some of the approximate data relating to the aircraft:

[0017] Maximum weight of aircraft+payload, i.e. fueled, 4 persons and 50 kg luggage, down to undercarriage=600 kg.

[0018] Wingspan=9 m; suspended aircraft 7 m.

[0019] Length=6 m

[0020] Speed v max=165 km/h

[0021] Vertically positive 2 g, negative 1 g (shock and vibration factor additionally φ=1.2)

[0022] Crosswise: ±1 g (locally on chassis 1.6 g),

[0023] shock and vibration factor φ=1.0 because already included).

[0024] Lengthwise: 1.5 g (originating from brakes).

[0025] The airframe of aircraft is supported on three points: One support in front plus swivel axle; two supports in rear plus rigid axle. No connection between the axles; or one connection only between the axles.

[0026] A distinction is made between the following 3 systems:

[0027] System 1: Airplanes driving on the rail

[0028] System 2: Airplanes driving below the rail

[0029] System 3: Airplanes driving both on and below the rail

[0030] Regarding the rail system, only a steel construction rail is considered for the rail. The following rail systems will be included in the selection:

[0031] (1) Open trussed tube system

[0032] (2) Welded solid-wall construction

[0033] (3) Rolled sections (profiles)

[0034] (4) Wire-braced steel cable construction.

[0035] Rail system (4) is excluded because of the high speed of the aircraft, the vibration behavior and the problems posed when driving through curves.

[0036] Since the aircraft encloses a section (or profile) with the running, the guide and the counter wheels, a round tube is feasible.

[0037] With rail system 1 (aircraft on the rail) and rail system 2 (aircraft below the rail), a three-chord or four-chord trussed tube system can be considered for rail system (1) (=open trussed tube system). This rail system possesses high torsional rigidity and low susceptibility to vibration. A four-chord trussed tube system can be considered for rail system 3 (aircraft both on and below the rail).

[0038] Rail system 2 (welded solid-wall construction) should contain a closed cross sectional area in order to obtain torsional rigidity.

[0039] Rail system 3 (rolled sections) could consist of a rolled section with two spaced rail tubes welded to it (soft in terms of torsion), or comprise two individual welded sections, strapped, whereby the 3 wheels of the chassis can run on top of/on the side of the flanges of the rolled sections. A through-extending truss is recommended for static reasons because of the lower deformation and because of the superior dynamic behavior when driving over supports. The deformation arising from the inherent weight of the rail plus half of the weight component of the aircraft should be compensated by pre-bending, and the deformation arising from the own load of the rail and one aircraft should not exceed under static load f=I/1000 (L=width of support).

[0040] A support width of I≧30 m is achieved with the rail. The bottom edge of the rail is located at least 6 meters above the ground with rail system 1, and at least 8.5 meters above the ground in connection with rail systems 2 and 3. This assures a clear space profile underneath the rail track that is adequate for traffic movements below the airplane track. Locally and for visual reasons, the rail also may be substantially higher above the ground; however, this would then influence the construction of the supports.

[0041] The rail may be curved in the vertical plane (over mountains and valleys); and it may be curved in the horizontal plane (curves without longitudinal and without transverse gradients), in which case it is a curved rail. The rail may be warped (ramps leading to the curves) and may have cross or longitudinal gradients in the curves, in which case it is a spatially curved rail. Spatially curved rails should be avoided for cost reasons. Vertical radii Rv≧220 m in order not to exceed 2 g in the valley, and to maintain >0 g on the mountain.

[0042] Horizontal radii, within zones where the aircraft can be driven with v max, Rh≧400 m, in conjunction with which cross acceleration at a maximum cross gradient β=18° is maintained within justifiable limits: 1

at v min. = 0 m/sa = −0.31 g
at v max. = 45.83 m/sa = +0.20 g
at v mean = 35.7 m/sa = 0 g.

[0043] The ramps leading to horizontal curves have to be constructed with cubic parabolas.

[0044] Once the type of rail to be used has been selected based on the investigation of the static system, tolerances are fixed for the manufacture of the rail.

[0045] The rail has to be dimensioned for the following influences acting on it:

[0046] (A) Inherent load

[0047] (B) Payload from one aircraft with all dynamic influences

[0048] (C) Payload from three aircraft one after the other, without dynamic influence with permissible static stresses

[0049] (D) Wind during operation v=20 m/s, conforms to wind force 8 according to Beaufort's scale

[0050] (E) Storm, atmospheric pressure according to local conditions

[0051] (F) Earthquakes according to local conditions

[0052] (G) D-temperature, based on installation temperature and local conditions

[0053] (H) Snow load and icing. These loads have to be included only if they may occur locally. These loads must not be superimposed on the payload because snow and ice have to be removed prior to driving an aircraft.

[0054] (I) Sinking of supports: If realistic springs are included in the calculations for the local construction grounds and the top edges of the foundation are measured at time intervals and corrections are made after a calculated displacement limit has been exceeded, settlement (sinking) of supports does not have to be pursued further mathematically.

[0055] The rail has to be calculated with respect to operational strength for at least 20 years. The rail must be protected against corrosion based on local requirements. Shock and/or vibration factors have to be taken into account at least by the factor φ if not required higher: 2

VerticallyHorizontally
φ =1.21.6

[0056] For the influence of rolling movements (along the straight course), ±0.10× weight of aircraft has to be taken into account horizontally.

[0057] The most difficult load case will be G(Δ−temperature) because long straight sliding pieces are present. However, these sliding pieces must be constructed in such a way that the wheels will not be subjected to excessive wear when driving over such sliding pieces.

[0058] Individual supports made of round tubes or rolled sections are proposed for rail system 1 (airplanes driving on the rail). Frame supports made of round tubes or rolled sections are proposed for rail system 2 (airplanes below the rail) and rail system 3 (airplanes both on and below the rail). Unilateral cantilevers extending from the rail to the supports are conceivable, but unfavorable statically speaking because the rail is highly twisted in that case, among other things. All supports should be braced down to the foundation, specifically via previously concrete-encased anchors, so that support sinking, if any, can be corrected, and because this makes the installation simpler.

[0059] The supports and the rails have to dimensioned for operational strength for the load cases specified for the rail system.

[0060] If supports are arranged in areas where vehicles can drive on the ground, the supports have to be protected against collision (impact) loads, or mathematical proof demonstrating their strength must be furnished. The protection against impingement can be realized also through constructional measures such as:

[0061] (1) Concrete foundation extending upwards

[0062] (2) Enclosure in the form of guardrails or other means of protection.

[0063] The deformation of the head of the support horizontally in the payload case should amount to w≦h/600; h=height of support.

[0064] The connections rail-to-rail, support-to-rail and support-to-support are designed as screw joints because connections welded on the construction site have drawbacks.

[0065] It has to be investigated locally whether the supports have to be grounded or equipped with lightning conductors or rods.

[0066] In light of the fact that the aircraft have to parked under cover and serviced, and that airplanes have to be removed from the track and parked with few visitors to the airplane track, but returned again to the track at a busy time, at least one rail switch (sliding platform) is required. An aircraft, secured, is driven from the main track sideways by engine on a straight rail section. A second straight rail section then closes the track immediately so that the operation is interrupted only for a short time. The rail switch platform with the aircraft is driven past a number of sidings or parking rails at the head end, and the aircraft is then pushed by motor force onto a certain rail siding. Several sidings or parking tracks should be available, so that access to individual aircraft is more flexible.

[0067] The aircraft are put into service analogously in the reverse sequence. The gap created in the main rail by the rail switch has to be secured in such a way that the operation can be started again only after the rail section has closed the gap again in a secured manner.

[0068] With the present airplane track, it is possible also to drive from the round course to branches of the track leading to separate destinations, where a rail switch is then installed which is controlled by the control system as well.

[0069] Because the airplane track is individually used by pilots driving at different speeds ranging from v=0 m/s (standstill) to v max.=45.8 m/s (maximum driving speed), it is necessary to provide brakes. Each aircraft should be equipped with at least one parking brake on the running wheels that can be activated by the pilot (and/or operator) in order to prevent the following:

[0070] (1) Forward rolling on the clear track

[0071] (2) Backward rolling on the clear track

[0072] (3) Aircraft pushed by wind on the clear track.

[0073] If the ignition is shut off or canceled via radio by the control tower and the feed of fuel is interrupted, so-called locking or parking brakes moderately slow the aircraft down if the roll-out distance is too long. The free distance of the track is divided in blocks each containing a safety brake at the start and at the end. These brakes may become very long because in the extreme case, an aircraft would have to brought to a stop from v max.=45.8 m/s. It is necessary to investigate by means of tests whether passengers with their seat belts buckled up can be expected to withstand a deceleration of 0.7 g. In any case, it is necessary to assure that the ignition is switched off and the feed of fuel is interrupted in such an emergency case.

[0074] The braking distance will be: 1S=v22xa45.822×0.7×9.81=153 m.embedded image

[0075] A conceivable emergency brake is realized as follows:

[0076] Vertically displaceable permanent magnets are installed in the undercarriage of the aircraft and braking is accomplished by means of a vertical fin with a length of 153 m (installed in a fixed manner) in the rail. So that no braking can occur in the normal case of operation, the permanent magnets are located in the undercarriage at the top. The permanent magnets are pushed down into the range of the vertical fin only in case of emergency braking. This operation or process has to be “fail safe”.

[0077] The system would function also with fixed permanent magnets and a displaceable vertical fin.

[0078] Another conceivable emergency brake could comprises several brakes installed in the 4 running wheels, whereby triggering at the start and end of the blocks by the pilot has to be assured independently of the “fail safe” system.

[0079] Operationally speaking, only one aircraft may be present in each block of the airplane track at the time. Exceptions include the rescue case, in which a second aircraft (rescue vehicle) is permitted to drive into the block for towing. This means that each aircraft has to be monitored individually, e.g. by GPS and/or an approximation switch and/or spacing controls using a beam and reflectors.

[0080] If an aircraft wants to drive into a block, an interrogation is carried out at the start of an entire block length whether the respective block is occupied by an aircraft. If the block is occupied, the aircraft wanting to enter is automatically slowed down (braked) and stopped. If the block is clear, the aircraft drives into the block and reports this block occupied. When the aircraft drives out of the block, it reports the block clear rearwards. The block system has to be a “fail safe” system.

[0081] Waiting or holding fields are available in the station, on the rail switch and on the siding track for one aircraft in each case. The waiting or holding fields (also on the sidings or parking rails) are individually realized like blocks and are included in the control system, as is the locking of the rail switches.

[0082] Rescue and maintenance vehicles have to be integrated in the control system.

[0083] The filling level of the fuel tanks of the aircraft should be controlled as well so that no operational disturbances are caused by empty fuel tanks.

[0084] Two-radio communication with each aircraft is available from and to the control tower.

[0085] It is necessary to control the driven speed and to request the pilot to drive faster if his speed is very slow, so that unnecessary operation shutdowns are avoided because of the starting time in the blocks. The speed is monitored in front of the station. A compatible braking action is initiated automatically if the speed of the pilot is too high.

[0086] For the purpose of redundancy of the block system, each aircraft is equipped with a system of approximation measurement (beam and reflector) which, upon approaching the distance of the braking path, switches off in the aircraft the ignition, interrupts the feed of fuel and triggers a braking action. Such a case cannot occur with a functioning block system. However, this increases failure safety.

[0087] The rescue vehicle or vehicles are controlled and monitored by the control system as well.

[0088] The block system prevents two or more aircraft from rear-ending each other.

[0089] All passengers are “buckled up”. The doors are locked during driving in such a way that they cannot be opened either intentionally or unintentionally. The following possibilities are available for this measure:

[0090] (a) Locking only to be operated by the pilot.

[0091] (b) Locking prior to starting, unlocking only in the station and from the outside by manual unlocking or unlocking by radio in case of emergency (aircraft standing still).

[0092] At least 1 fire extinguisher is available on board of each aircraft; furthermore, a two-way radio system for communicating with the control tower, as well as a loudspeaker have to be available on board of the aircraft.

[0093] A rope ladder is arranged in a fixed manner within the area of each door of the aircraft, with a length at least conforming to the greatest height of the rail track above the ground. When passengers are within the area of the aircraft (for boarding and disembarking and during rescue operations), the propeller must not be capable of running or of being started.

[0094] An aircraft broken down on the track can be towed only by a rescue vehicle approaching from ahead of the track.

[0095] The vertical stress to which passengers are exposed amounts to 1· over the longest period of time. 2· g may occur for a short time when driving through valleys. The stress may be close to 0· g when driving over mountains. 1.2· g may occur for a short time in the curves.

[0096] Due to rolling along the straight track sections and when driving through curves, ±0.3· g occur, mathematically speaking. However, lateral acceleration of up to about ±1· g has to be expected due to play of the guide wheels and their wear, as well as a result of cross wind gusts.

[0097] Here, the accelerations and decelerations occur due the driving behavior of the pilot. These accelerations and decelerations are limited by the power of the engine and the maximum braking moment. In the event of emergency braking in the block system, 0.7· g occur, which forces or throws the passenger forward into the seat belt.

[0098] The aircraft is operated by the pilot by starting the engine, accelerating the aircraft, braking, and shutting down the engine. The maximum speed of 165 km/h cannot be exceeded by the pilot.

[0099] All safety-relevant braking operations (emergency braking in the block system and slowing down before reaching the station) are carried out in a controlled and automatic way.

[0100] For the above reasons it is deemed sufficient if the pilot has a driver's license. Guidelines for the conduct expected of the pilot must be posted with good visibility in the station and on board of the aircraft, in several languages, if need be. Pictograms may be helpful as well.

[0101] The operation with passengers may be started only after the track has been checked (test drive with rescue and maintenance vehicle) by the operating personnel:

[0102] (a) Each morning

[0103] (b) After the track has been shut down, e.g. for maintenance and service, repairs or unusual weather conditions.

[0104] The check has to include also the required clear space or clearance profile, among other things, i.e. branches of trees may have grown again and may have moved into the clear space or clearance by wind. The rail must always be free of foreign objects, which may include accumulating snow, fresh frost and icing, which would have to be removed during the test drive, and removed also from the braking fins, if need be, because the braking safety would otherwise no longer be assured.

[0105] Brake tests have to be carried out during the test drives on the aircraft and within in the block brakes.

[0106] A log must list all further tests and checks which the personnel are required to carry out based on the following schedules:

[0107] (1) Daily

[0108] (2) Weekly

[0109] (3) Monthly

[0110] (4) Annually

[0111] (5) Following unusual operating conditions.

[0112] The airplane track can be operated also at night and with poor visibility because the operational sequence is secured fully automatically and overrides any individual interference on part of the pilot. However, the visibility (also with artificial lighting) should be greater than the longest braking distance.

[0113] The aircraft should be equipped with lights permitting illumination over a distance greater than the longest braking distance, and with full flight lighting.

[0114] The operation has to be shut down when winds reach velocity 8 according to the Beaufort scale (=20 m/s).

[0115] The operation may continue also with rain. The operation should be shut down if the visibility falls short of the required value with strong rain.

[0116] The station is covered and has space for at least 6 aircraft lined up one after the other. The exit should be located within an area removed from the entrance in such a way that the aircraft can be cleaned in between, if necessary, and that minor maintenance or service work can be carried out.

[0117] If the time required for disembarking from or boarding the aircraft is longer than the starting time, provision could be made in the station for two parallel rails with rail switches, which would double the time available for disembarking from or boarding an aircraft.

[0118] People or passengers leaving or boarding the aircraft are guarded against the aircraft by fencing or guardrails. Starting with the braking of the aircraft before reaching the station, during further transport across the waiting fields by the transport units, up to the start of the aircraft with locked doors, it must be possible to run the propeller and to start the propeller.

[0119] No people are allowed within the area of the starting aircraft. Braking before reaching the station has to be monitored. If the pilot feels the speed is too high, automatic braking is initiated. Waiting fields follow then, each field for one aircraft and with transport units. If the waiting fields located in front of the aircraft are not occupied, the aircraft continues to drive to the exit where passengers disembark, and is stopped there. The aircraft is stopped if waiting fields are occupied. For a smooth operation, as many waiting fields should be arranged after the block braking as there are aircraft on the track. Otherwise aircraft would have to be stopped also in the block brakes in the presence of operational disturbances. If two or more stations exist, the number of waiting fields in front of the station and in the station can be divided accordingly. The rail switch used for driving the airplanes to the sidings or parking rails should correspond with the waiting field located between the block brake ahead of the station and the station.

[0120] The area of the parking rails or sidings is covered and the area where the airplanes are fueled is specially secured and protected and equipped with fire extinguishers and/or a sprinkler system. smoking is prohibited within the area of the station and conduct signs or pictograms for pilots and passengers have to be posted in a visible manner, in several languages, if need be.

[0121] Artificial lighting is available at least during night operations and provision is made for an emergency power supply for maintaining the entire operation. There are also access ramps for disabled persons.

[0122] Transport units with brakes are provided in the waiting fields, in the station and on the parking rails or sidings. This may be air tires with transmission and reversible electric motors with brakes. The air tires are engaged with a sword of the undercarriage of the airplanes.

[0123] In the event a disturbance occurs on the track, when an aircraft comes to a stop, the passengers are addressed by the control tower by radio via the loudspeaker installed on board of the aircraft. If the disturbance is known and of a brief duration, the passengers remain seated with their seat belts on, and later drive on once the disturbance has been eliminated. If the disturbance is not of a brief duration, the following possibilities are available for evacuating the passengers:

[0124] (a) Quick Evacuation Operations

[0125] After the brake on the aircraft has been set, the propeller has been shut down and the doors have been unlocked, the rope ladder arranged fixed on board of the aircraft are thrown out and the passengers can climb down to the ground under the supervision of the pilot. On aircraft driving with disabled persons, a personal transporting device is available that can be lowered to the ground on ropes.

[0126] (b) Longer-Lasting Evacuation Operations At least one special rescue and maintenance vehicle is built, for example, a gasoline or diesel operated vehicle capable of driving forward and in reverse, with which the rails and the upper areas of the track supports can be inspected. This vehicle should have room for 6 persons, i.e. for 4 passengers to be evacuated and 2 operators.

[0127] If an aircraft breaks down on the track, the track in front or ahead of this aircraft is clear, so that the rescue vehicle can drive from the station backwards to the inoperative aircraft. The rescue vehicle then takes the inoperative aircraft in tow and tows it to the station. If the aircraft is no longer capable of moving at all, the passengers transfer to the rescue vehicle under supervision of the 2 operators and are transported to the station. At least one rescue vehicle has to be available for each station.

[0128] The maintenance and service intervals are specified in a log (to be generated) and have to be adhered to.

[0129] For rescue and maintenance or service purposes, it is desirable that the entire course of the rail system can be followed on the ground by ground vehicles so that passengers can be lowered to the ground also in cases of quick evacuation. A mobile radio is available on board of the aircraft, which the pilot has to take with him when leaving the aircraft via the rope ladder, so that the pilot and/or the control tower can get into contact with the passengers on the ground.

[0130] Large visible numerals are attached to the track supports on two sides in the direction of the rail, so that passengers on the ground can report their exact location.

[0131] The airplane track is built on supports and therefore requires only little space on the ground. The airplanes are equipped with gasoline engines and generate only as much noise as small sports aircraft normally do. However, since they are driven close to the ground, the airplane track including the station can be set up only in undeveloped areas. Within the area of the station with waiting passengers, the engine of the aircraft is not running, so that the noise is actually generated only before reaching the station by braking and within the station by starting operations. Passengers who wish to ride on the airplane track will expect such noise.

[0132] The fueling area and the maintenance and service area, for example for oil changes, is constructed in such a way that no foreign matter can seep into the ground (ground water).

[0133] Within the area where the aircraft are cleaned, gasoline and oil separators have to be installed. The pollution of the air by exhaust gases can be approximately compared to the pollution found at small busy county airports. However, such exhaust gases are emitted directly on undeveloped grounds.

[0134] As the airplane track is set up high on supports, no animals can reach the rails and be endangered there except for birds. However, it can be assumed that birds will fly up due to the noise generated by an approaching aircraft. Animals on the ground, however, may be frightened away by the noise.

[0135] The hourly capacity of the airplane track is dependent on 3 factors:

[0136] (1) Number of seats per aircraft

[0137] (2) Starting sequence

[0138] (3) Extent of utilization of available seats. 2C=3600ΔT×n×α100% [persons  per  hour]embedded image

[0139] ΔT=starting frequency [seconds]

[0140] α=capacity utilization factor [%]

[0141] n=number of seats per aircraft

[0142] With 4-seater aircraft n=4

[0143] ΔT=100 seconds

[0144] α=75%. 3 of 4 seats occupied on the average 3Chour=3600100×4×75%100%=108 p/hembedded image

[0145] At 13 hours per day:

[0146] Cday=108×13=1404 p/day

[0147] At 365 days per year:

[0148] Cyear=1404×365=521,460 p/year

[0149] With 100 seconds loading time and 2 rails with switches in the station, aircraft can start every 50 seconds. 4Chour=360050×4×75%100%=216 p/hembedded image

[0150] Cday=216×13=2808 persons/day

[0151] Cyear=2808×365=1,024,920 persons/year

[0152] Greatest block length:

V max=165 km/h=45.83 m/s

[0153] The slowest aircraft determines the block length because switch-offs may occur.

[0154] Assuming 5v min is=v max2,embedded image

[0155] v min becomes=22.92 m/s

[0156] With a starting time of 100 seconds:

[0157] 100×22.92=2292 m

[0158] Braking distance in block brake=−153 m −Response time 2 seconds=−92 m −Reserve −47 m

[0159] Δl100=2000 m

[0160] With a starting time of 50 seconds:

[0161] 50×22.92=1146 m

[0162] Braking distance in block brake=−153 m −Response time 2 seconds=−92 m −Reserve=−51 m −Δl50=850 m

[0163] If no fixed blocks are installed, and if it can be redundantly secured, for example by means of radar, GPS, approximation system in the aircraft with beam reflector, a fast aircraft driving at speed v max catches up with the aircraft preceding it with 6V min=v max2embedded image

[0164] after that many seconds, with a braking distance of 153 m:

v min×(T+starting time)=v max×T+153

[0165] Starting time=100 seconds: 7T100=v min×100-153v max-v minembedded image 8T100=22.92×100-15345.83-22.92=93.4 seconds.embedded image

[0166] Starting time=50 seconds: 9T50=22.92×50-15345.83-22.92=43.3 seconds.embedded image

[0167] Number of aircraft: z

[0168] Total length of track L [m]

[0169] Starting sequence ΔT [seconds] 10Mean  speed v mean=v max+v min2v mean=45.83+22.922=34.375 [m/s]embedded image

[0170] Number of stations y:

[0171] 5 additional aircraft are calculated per station, disembarking and boarding, 2.2 additional planes as buffer aircraft, and 1 being repaired or serviced. This also covers braking before reaching the station and starting. 11Zstarting time=LV mean×Δ T+y×5embedded image

[0172] Starting time 100 seconds:

[0173] L=40 km, 2 stations 12Z100=4000034.375×100+2×5 12+10=22 aircraftembedded image

[0174] Starting time 50 seconds:

[0175] L=40 km, 2 stations 13Z50=4000034.375×50+2×5=24+10=34 aircraftembedded image

[0176] System 1 (aircraft on the rail) is the steel structure (rail and track supports) with the lowest cost and should perhaps be used for the first airplane track.

[0177] The fixed block system with brakes has a substantial influence on the cost and operation of the airplane track. It is absolutely necessary to clarify whether a system (“fail safe”) with a monitoring and control system will safely detect when two aircraft approach each other and safely automatically trigger braking, so that two aircraft can never collide. The automobile industry is working on traffic guidance systems with approximation detection and automatic braking. Such a system (telemetry) should be employed in the present case as well.

[0178] Since the speed of an aircraft can be individually determined by the pilot, the speed deviating from the maximum speed has a substantial bearing on the operation (up to shutdowns) and the number of aircraft used. The above considerations are based on the assumption that 14V min=V max2 and v mean=34×v max.embedded image

[0179] During operation, higher values may be achievable for “v min” and “v mean”, e.g. when “v min” is reached, an announcement could be made to the pilot: “Please drive faster”.

[0180] For each envisioned location it is necessary to negotiate a construction permit with the local permitting authorities and a release must be obtained from all participants in the permitting process. Furthermore, the rights for elevated travel over property have to be clarified. The following information has to be known or obtained with respect to the location:

[0181] Wind loads

[0182] Earthquake loads

[0183] Snow loads, icing

[0184] Δ-temperature

[0185] Ground conditions

[0186] Since the present project involves a novel type of track, at least one prototype of the aircraft including the undercarriage has to be built and tested under the operating conditions, emergency run conditions etc.

[0187] All safety components such as, for example brakes, approximation systems etc. have to be tested under all kinds of different weather and application conditions (full aircraft, empty aircraft, power failure, emergency shutdown, etc.). The rescue operations have to be tested under conditions as closely as possible to a real life situation.

[0188] The airplane track can be built and operated throughout the year in an operationally safe manner.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0189] Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in connection with the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed as an illustration only and not as a definition of the limits of the invention.

[0190] In the drawings, wherein similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views:

[0191] FIG. 1 shows a front view of the system according to the invention with an aircraft on and below the rail;

[0192] FIG. 2 shows a side view thereof;

[0193] FIG. 3 shows a front view of an alternative embodiment according to the invention showing the aircraft on the rail;

[0194] FIG. 4 shows a side view of the embodiment in FIG. 3; and

[0195] FIG. 5 shows a side view of the entire track assembly and the station.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0196] Referring now in detail to the drawings and, in particular, FIGS. 1-5 show an airplane track according to the invention with airplanes 1. There are rails 2 supported by a suitable framework construction 3 located at least several meters above the ground level, and extend as a horizontal railway track over a distance of several kilometers. The airplanes 1 accommodate several passengers and are guided on the rails 2.

[0197] Airplane 1 contains a control 15 permitting at least one passenger to drive airplanes on the railway track 2 by himself.

[0198] Airplane 1 comprises a connecting truck 4 on its underside or top side for guiding airplane 1 on the rails. The framework construction 3 supporting rails 2 is designed in such a way that airplanes 1 can be guided suspended on rails 2 and/or riding on the rails 2, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.

[0199] Framework construction 3 is formed by approximately vertical framework supports 5 for airplane 1 riding on the rails, with the rails 2 being secured on the top sides of supports 15.

[0200] If airplane 1 is guided suspended on the rails 2, the framework construction is formed by approximately vertical framework supports 5 and crossbeams 6 resting on supports 5. Each crossbeam 6 is supported by two framework supports 5 and the spacing between framework supports 5 is greater than the width of the wing span 12 of the airplanes 1.

[0201] Rails 2 are secured on a tubular lattice-work construction, which is in turn secured on framework supports 5 or on the top sides of crossbeams 6.

[0202] Airplanes 1 are preferably 4-seater, single-engine airplanes with original equipment.

[0203] Connecting truck 4 secured on airplane 1 on the underside or the top side comprises a rigid axle 7, a connecting part and a swivel axle 8. Airplane 1 is guided on rails 2 on wheels 9, 10, 11. Specifically, airplane 1 has running wheels 9, guide wheels 10 and counter wheels 11 mounted on the ends of the axles 7, 8 of connecting truck 4.

[0204] Skids 16 are arranged near wheels 9, 10, 11, such skids sliding on rail 2 in case of loss or wear of a wheel, preventing derailing in this way. Metal sheets 17 are arranged in front of and/or behind the wheels 9, 10, 11 for protecting the wheels.

[0205] The profile of wings 12 of airplane 1 is designed in such a way that no lift or only very minor lift of airplane 1 is caused.

[0206] The doors 13 of airplane 1 cannot be opened while the airplane 1 is moving. Airplane 1 can be stopped via radio signals from a control station 18 in the event of an emergency. Airplane 1 can be driven at a speed of over 30 km/h. Preferably, airplane 1 can be driven at a top speed of at least 200 km/h.

[0207] The spacing of framework supports 5 between each other along the railway track amounts to at least 30 m and rails 2 have a minimum height of 6 m above ground level.

[0208] Airplane 1 can be monitored via suitable position detection systems 19 (e.g. GPS) from control station 18 and, if need be, braked or accelerated. The track is divided in section blocks 20, in which only one airplane 1 may move, whereby before an airplane 1 enters a section block 20, an automatic radio query takes place addressed to the control station 18 as to whether the section block 20 is clear for driving, and, if necessary, airplane 1 is braked by control station 18. There is two-way radio communication 21 between airplane 1 and control station 18.

[0209] Airplane 1 is equipped with a system for approximation measurements 22 in order to determine the distance between airplane 1 and to trigger braking and/or shutoff of airplane 1.

[0210] There is at least one roof-covered station 23 for embarking on and disembarking from airplane 1, wherein several airplanes 1 can line up in station 23 one after the other.

[0211] There is a siding 24 for maintenance work and for varying the number of airplanes 1 operating on the track, whereby the siding can be reached via a suitably secured switch 25.

[0212] Accordingly, while only a few embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it is obvious that many changes and modifications may be made thereunto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.





 
Previous Patent: Wire reel

Next Patent: CONTROL LINE ASSEMBLY FOR KITES