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Aircraft

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

Long-endurance Predator drone spreads its wings

The Predator B (AKA the MQ-9 Reaper) is one of the mainstay drones of the US Air Force and is also flown by the air forces of the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. In the latest of a long series of upgrades, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has announced the maiden flight of the Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper Extended Range (ER) Long Wing. Retrofitted with long-endurance wings with greater internal fuel capacity and a raft of other features, the improvements bring the drone into the reconnaissance class.Read More

Refurbished Solar Impulse 2 returns to the skies

Following a seven-month grounding in Hawaii, Solar Impulse 2 is preparing for a return to its historic round-the-world sun-powered flight. The team has carried out a maintenance flight to test out newly installed systems and plans to continue its journey at the end of April with a four-day flight from Hawaii to the west coast of the USA. Read More

NASA wants to bring back X-planes to test new aviation technologies

The American X-planes were part of the romance of the heyday of post-war aviation with test pilots like Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in the X-1 and a rival corps of astronauts flew into space in the X-15. As part of a 10-year plan proposed by the Obama administration, NASA Aeronautics' New Aviation Horizons program wants to revive the X-planes for the 21st century as demonstrators for emerging, greener flight technologies.Read More

Shape-shifting drone wings inspired by bats

We've already seen more than one micro air vehicle (MAV) that mimics the flapping-wing flight of bats. Scientists at the University of Southampton, however, recently announced something a little more subtle, but perhaps with wider applications. They've developed a bat-inspired membrane for use in MAV wings, that changes shape in order to improve its performance.Read More

Boeing brings electronic log book on line

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.Read More

Drone flight powered by lightweight hydrogen-producing pellets

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.Read More

Easyjet to trial hydrogen hybrid airplane tech

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.Read More

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