Whisper Aero reveals 100-seat commercial aircraft concept

Whisper Aero

Whisper Aero has unveiled a 100-seater commercial aircraft concept it calls Whisper Jetliner at the Ohio Air Mobility Symposium.

The concept uses larger versions of Whisper’s electric ducted fans integrated into a wing to achieve Upper Surface Blowing, as pioneered by the NASA QSRA flight demonstrator, said CEO Mark Moore. The integration is referred to as a jetfoil by the firm because the propulsion system is embedded directly into the wing airfoil while being distributed across the entire leading edge.

“Ultimately, Whisper sees this as a north star for where their propulsion systems can achieve major reductions in carbon emissions across the core aviation market,” said Moore. 

The firm has submitted a proposal for the NASA Advanced Aircraft for Sustainable Aviation which has recently been announced to provide a path toward net-zero aviation emissions by 2050.

According to developers, the Whisper Jetliner is able to maintain a 27% thrust-to-weight ratio (T/W) with fan pressure ratios closer to 1.2, as opposed to 1.4 with current geared turbofans. The reduction in fan pressure ratio increases overall propulsive efficiency allowing it to operate with 804 Wh/kg batteries for energy in combination with a 4 MW series hybrid for reserves to achieve battery electric ranges up to 769 miles IFR.

The concept also feature an outboard horizontal tail configuration. This helps to improve aerodynamics, lower noise across the board and shorten takeoff and landing field lengths to under 3000 ft. 

On top of that, integrating Whisper’s electric ducted fans along the leading edge of the wing increases the aircraft’s wing loading by >20%. This in turn increases the cruise high speed lift-to-drag ratio from 17.5 to 22. All of that decreases energy use, and subsequently, direct operating cost.

“Ultimately, achieving sustainability is about the ability to outcompete existing hydrocarbon-based alternatives on operating costs, which would force early retirement of existing fleets,” said Moore. 

According to Whisper, energy costs for a typical 500 mile trip are $733 for the Whisper Jetliner (at an industrial electricity rate of $.07 kWhr) compared to $2,100 (at fuel price of $2.00/gallon) for an equivalently sized current commercial aircraft, such as an Airbus A320-100.