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Aircraft

Wraparound jet engine design could put window seats at a premium

If you like the window seat while you fly, then maybe enjoy it while it lasts. Airbus has filed a US patent application for a new multi-fan jet engine design, which has the engine nacelles wrapping around the airplane's fuselage instead of suspended from the wing. Still very much a concept, the design is aimed at improving engine efficiency while keeping overall size down.Read More

First US-produced Airbus makes maiden flight

Last September, Airbus officially launched its new North American aircraft assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, joining final assembly lines located in France, Germany, Spain and China. The first aircraft produced at the facility, an A321 that will join JetBlue's fleet, has now flown for the first time in the skies over Mobile.Read More

Can Boom bring back supersonic flight without the astronomical price tag?

A Denver-based startup company is entering the race to reintroduce supersonic commercial travel with the promise of a 40-passenger airliner that can not only fly faster than Concorde, but at business class prices. Boom Technology says it is using modern engines and materials to develop a supersonic passenger jet that can cruise at Mach 2.2 (1,675 mph, 2,700 km/h), with prices starting at US$5,000 for a return ticket between London and New York.Read More

United Airlines commences regular bio-fueled flights

Without much in the way of fanfare, United Airlines began flying regularly scheduled flights using biofuels earlier this month. Following years of demonstration and test flights to prove the fuel's viability, it's the first instance of a US airline putting commercial-scale volumes of biofuel into passenger-carrying planes on an ongoing basis.Read More

Can an up-close study of bird flight clear shapeshifting aircraft wings for takeoff?

The ability of birds to fly more efficiently by changing the shape of their wings has inspired a number of approaches to developing low-energy aircraft. If this technique can be replicated, where individual feathers are adjusted to guide the animals through the air, it could make for vehicles that are lighter, faster and more maneuverable. With a view to making such shape-shifting wings a reality, scientists are about to get up close and personal with our avian friends, launching into the most detailed analysis of bird flight ever conducted in the name of aerospace engineering.Read More

Slippery substance-secreting SLUGs to stop ice buildup

Anyone who's tried to travel by air during winter might know how frustrating it can be to sit on the tarmac while ice is removed from the wings of the aircraft. A truck spraying the wings with a de-icing agent might get the job done, but it also means precious travel time is wasted. To reduce downtime, scientists have developed a material that secretes a slick substance when temperatures drop to prevent ice from sticking to the wings in the first place.Read More

DARPA's unmanned X-Plane packs electric fans aplenty for vertical take-off and landing

If there was a competition for the oddest looking aircraft, then DARPA's VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) would have to be in the running for the main prize. With a modularized, cellular wing design that looks like a flying set of cupboards, the unmanned aircraft is a hybrid of fixed-wing and rotary wing technologies designed to create a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that boasts greater range and speed capabilities.Read More

Boeing creates self-cleaning, germ-zapping lavatory for airliners

One of the drawbacks of flying is that you're sharing the lavatory with a couple of hundred people of unknown hygiene standards, and the thing won't be properly cleaned again until the plane touches down. To make the airborne germaphobe a bit more comfortable and the facilities more hygienic, Boeing has created a self-cleaning airliner lavatory that uses non-touch technology and ultraviolet light that's claimed to kill 99.99 percent of germs in three seconds.Read More

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