Aircraft ‘catcher’ project shows no plane gain for power generation

I would never wish to discourage research but your news article, ’Landing a new role in power generation’ (The Engineer, 8 March), got me thinking. I find it difficult to believe that the effort and technology involved with such a scheme could possibly be effective.

The paraphernalia necessary to ’catch’ landing aircraft would surely consume more power than the measly 750kW the project hopes to recover, not to mention the expense in terms of world resources just to build the hardware in the first place.

How Qing-Chang Zhong proposes to catch aircraft weighing in at perhaps 180 tons without ’involvement of the aircraft manufactures and airlines’ is beyond me. Maybe Zhong has seen too many repeats of Thunderbirds where Virgil Tracy makes an emergency landing on wheeled trolleys in the ’Fireflash’ aircraft?

Perhaps it’s simplistic thinking on my part, but the whole project looks like a hook on which to hang pleas for research funding to keep a few academics in beer for a few years while thinking of complicated ways to do simple things.

’Research’ keeps the mind alert and sometimes produces useful spin-offs, but I can’t help thinking that going to bed early would be more effective and collectively save a lot more power.

David Madgwick, Farnham