Whether they've been crossing the English Channel, traversing the Alps, or attempting to fly around the world, solar-powered planes have been in the news a lot this year. While the aircraft are certainly fascinating and inspiring, there's no way that most of would ever be able to afford one … or is there? If a new Kickstarter campaign is successful, you'll be able to get a Volta Flyer solar airplane for just US$40. The only thing is, it'll be a little on the small side.
Looking more like a high-tech fighter than a light plane designed for private use, the Valkyrie from Cobalt aircraft has just been launched. With a canard front wing, sleek aerodynamic shape and a turbocharged 350 hp (260 kW) engine, the new Valkyrie is claimed to be capable of traveling at speeds of up to 260 knots (482 km/h, 300 mph) and has capacity for up to five adults and their luggage.
Most piston-driven helicopters use aviation-grade gasoline or avgas, but as part of the European Clean Sky initiative, Airbus Helicopters has begun flight testing of a new high-compression engine that burns widely-available kerosene aviation fuel. Installed in an H120 demonstrator aircraft, the advanced lightweight V8 piston engine promises to be a more efficient, cleaner alternative to turbine powerplants in high-performance rotorcraft.
Stealth aircraft like the F35 fighter generally rely on high-tech absorption materials and unusual geometries to scatter, deflect, and sponge up incoming radar signals. These techniques are exceptionally good at masking a vehicle's shape and size, particularly when swept with side-scanning radar. However, with lower-frequency, directed anti-stealth radar-targeting systems being developed, these surfaces prove much less able to hide an object. To help address this, a team of Chinese scientists has developed a thin electronic material that sheaths an object and effectively absorbs radar signals over a wide range of frequencies.
Fires in high-rise buildings can be very problematic. It can be difficult to move around the building, to quickly get equipment to where it needs to be and even to communicate with people inside. Dubai, a place with lots of towering constructions, plans to tackle this by giving Jetpacks to its firefighters.
Japan's hopes of becoming a global player in commercial aviation were given a boost this week with the first flight of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet. The MRJ90 test aircraft took off from Nagoya, Japan, on Wednesday and spent an hour and a half in the skies off the Pacific coast running through basic flight functionality.
The latest and most powerful variant of the Rolls-Royce Trent engine has taken to the air for the first time. Billed as the "world’s most efficient civil aircraft engine," the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 replaced one of the four Trent 900 engines on an Airbus A380 flying testbed aircraft during the flight over Toulouse, France.
The dream of personal flight took a great leap forward last week as Jetpack Aviation unveiled its JB-9 jetpack in spectacular fashion. Lifting off from a boat, inventor and aviator David Mayman flew the powerful, agile JB-9 around the Statue of Liberty, pausing to salute and pirouette before touching back down. Running on kerosene and using two vectored jet engines, the JB-9 can reach high speeds and altitudes and offers a flight time over 10 minutes, depending on pilot weight. We spoke at length with Mayman to discover how the JB-9 works and how long it'll be before we can buy one.
Daredevil Yves Rossy has never been afraid to think big when it comes to high-altitude stuntwork, but when it comes to wingmen, it doesn't come any bigger than this. "Jetman" has strapped on his set of kevlar wings and taken to the skies of Dubai to fly alongside the largest commercial aircraft there is, an Airbus A380 passenger jet.
Alphabet, the new holding company of Google, is aiming to roll-out its drone delivery service in 2017. Project Wing was first unveiled by the Google X research arm last year and, according to Reuters, Project head David Vos revealed the targeted launch date in Washington yesterday.