I'm talking about this sort of thing (this is the fictional airplane from Casino Royale), rather than two (or more) engines per wing in individual nacelles:
If we ignore the weird 'drop tanks' on the outer pylons, what makes this design inferior to one with individual nacelles? I can think of some highly speculative pros and cons for both layouts:
Pros for shared nacelles:
- Shared nacelle and pylon potentially means less frontal and wetted area per engine, which could maybe reduce overall drag.
- Overall, this scheme seems to allow the 'center of thrust' for all the engines on one wing to come closer to the centerline of the aircraft. In some designs like the A380, where a massive vertical fin is needed to maintain yaw authority in an engine(s)-out situation, it seems like this could save quite a bit of weight and drag by reducing the size of the vertical fin.
Cons for shared nacelles:
- Obviously there is an increased risk that an uncontained engine failure like the one on an A380 a few years ago could cause cascading failures in its 'neighbor'. I'm not sure how to quantify this risk, but it seems significant.
- Additionally, a structural failure in a pylon/nacelle (extremely rare but it does happen IIRC) will affect two engines instead of one.
- Maintenance will be probably be more difficult, since you'll have to mess with two engines just to get at one.
- I'd expect that due to the structural requirements of supporting two engines on one pylon, you probably wouldn't save much weight and you might actually end up with a heavier aircraft, all other things being equal.
- Maybe you'd lose some efficiency in the interaction between the exhausts of both engines in a nacelle?
- It might turn out that you can't fit two large high-bypass turbofans into one nacelle without choosing between flow separation issues and greatly increased frontal area.
This is all layman speculation, though. In reality, from an engineer's point of view, is the choice of one layout over the other obvious? Why or why not?