The paperless office may not have arrived, but it looks like the paperless cockpit is well on its way. Boeing has announced that Air New Zealand is abandoning old-fashioned hard copy technical logs on its fleet of six 787 Dreamliners in favor of Boeing's Electronic Log Book (ELB). According to the aircraft manufacturer, Air New Zealand is one of the first airlines to gain operational approval for the app, which is designed to improve the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of aircraft maintenance operations.
At first glance, hydrogen fuel cells sound like a great power source for fixed-wing drones making long flights – they have much longer run times than batteries, and they emit no emissions other than water vapor. Unfortunately, the hydrogen typically has to be stored in large heavy pressurized tanks. Last month, however, a Raptor E1 electric drone made a successful test flight running on a unique new system that's actually lighter than the lithium-ion battery it replaced.
EasyJet has announced plans to test a hybrid hydrogen fuel system. The concept was conceived by students at Cranfield University and could save around 50,000 tonnes (55,115 tons) of fuel a year, as well as the associated CO2 emissions. It would recover energy from braking when a plane lands.
Regular business flyers will know that planning trips is time-consuming, and that prices can fluctuate significantly. US startup OneGo, however, is out to change all that. It allows customers to pay a fixed monthly fee for unlimited flights on major airlines.
The first of the new generation of Boeing 737 MAX airliners to roll off the assembly line has made its maiden flight. Today's flight of the 737 MAX 8 began at 9:46 am PST from Renton Field in Washington State and ended at Boeing Field in Seattle at 12:33 pm. The flight marks the start of Boeing's test flight program for certification and delivery.
Both airplane wings and helicopter rotor blades are subject to one problem – they can both ice up. Although de-icing solutions can be applied when aircraft are on the ground, that doesn't stop ice from eventually forming once they're in the air. That's why scientists at Texas' Rice University have developed a new graphene-based coating that continuously melts ice by conducting an electrical current.
From battle zones to oil rigs, helicopters often operate in some of the hairiest situations in which pilots are forced to rely solely on cockpit instruments. In an effort to improve safety, the non-profit helicopter safety organization HeliOffshore is using eye-tracking technology to gain a greater understanding of how pilots operate in such scenarios.
As might be expected, there are a lot of drones on display this week at CES. Almost all of them have one thing in common, however: people can't ride in them. We say "almost all," as there is one exception. Ehang's 184 AAV (Autonomous Aerial Vehicle) is designed to carry a single human passenger, autonomously flying them from one location to another.
According to NASA, US airlines could save up to 250 billion dollars between 2025 and 2050. It will all be thanks to green technology pioneered by the agency and industry partners, as part of NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project.
Helicopters may be able to take off and land from places that fixed-wing airplanes can't, but those whirling exposed rotor blades still keep them out of tight spaces. That's why Israel's Tactical Robotics Ltd created the AirMule. It's an unmanned VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, which features lift rotors that are safely enclosed inside its body. Although we first heard about it two years ago, the prototype just recently made its first untethered test flight.