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Aeroplanes

First manned fuel-cell flight

April 7, 2008 Boeing has added another chapter to aviation history by flying a manned airplane powered by hydrogen fuel cells (preview article here). The milestone is the work of Boeing Research & Technology Europe (BR&TE is part of the legendary Phantom Works advanced R&D unit) in Madrid, working with a raft of industry partners across the world. A two-seat Dimona motor-glider with a 16.3 meter (53.5 foot) wingspan was used as the airframe .  Read More

Northrop Grumman's GUARDIAN missile defense system for commercial airliners

Being shot out of the sky with a surface-to-air missile might not be at the forefront of your mind when traveling on a commercial airliner, but with shoulder-mounted, infra-red anti-aircraft rockets selling for as little as US$5000 in trouble spots around the world, it's perhaps surprising that it's only happened a few dozen times in recent years. Once launched, such a missile travels at twice the speed of sound towards its target, so countermeasures must be automatic and instant - which brings us to Northrop Grumman's GUARDIAN system. This anonymous-looking pod provides 360-degree laser-based missile defense for commercial airliners for a total cost of around a dollar per passenger over the aircraft's service life.  Read More

Flight duration record: RQ-4A Global Hawk
 Photo: Northrop Grumman

March 28, 2008 Northrop Grumman Corporation's RQ-4 Global Hawk has successfully completed a flight lasting 33.1 hours at altitudes up to 60,000. While the milestone does not match the 54 hour flight achieved by QinetiQ’s Zephyr in 2007, it is a record for a full-scale, operational unmanned aircraft - and there was still fuel left in the tank.  Read More

Lynx sub-orbital spacecraft
 Image: www.xcor.com

March 28, 2008 Back in 2001 Californian millionaire Denis Tito made headlines as the worlds' first space tourist - shelling out around US$20 million for the privilege. Seven years on, the competition to offer such an out-of-this-world experience to a broader range of paying customers (and capitalize on what is expected to become a market worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade) is heating up. Earlier this year fledgling spaceline Virgin Galactic revealed designs for what will become its flagship -SpaceShipTwo, now Californian based XCOR Aerospace has unveiled a two-seater suborbital spaceship the size of a small private plane that the company expects to have airborne in 2010.  Read More

Continental to conduct biofuel test

Continental Airlines, in conjunction with Boeing and GE Aviation, has announced plans to conduct a biofuel demonstration flight in the first half of 2009. Continental will be the first major U.S. carrier to undertake such a flight in an effort to identify sustainable fuel solutions for the aviation industry.  Read More

AeroVironment Puma unmanned aircraft system

March 7, 2008 AeroVironment (AV) has achieved a new long-duration flight record with its hand-launched Puma small unmanned air vehicle (SUAV). The fuel cell hybrid-powered Puma flew for over nine-hours eclipsing the previous record of seven hours set by the same craft in July 2007.  Read More

Boeing 787 Dreamliner
 Image credit: Boeing

March 5, 2008 The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has successfully completed a series of tests revealing how the composite barrel design will fare in extreme weather conditions as part of achieving certification for the 787.  Read More

Virgin Atlantic biofuel test flight

Dubbed a “scam” and a “stunt” by environmental groups and sections of the media, the fact remains that Virgin Atlantic has become the world's first airline to fly one of its commercial planes on biofuel. A mix of standard jet fuel, coconut and babassu oils powered the Boeing 747 jumbo jet from London Heathrow to Amsterdam.  Read More

Cessna SkyCatcher prototype nears completion

February 27, 2008 The Cessna SkyCatcher, which has been attracting a steady stream of attention since the program was officially launched last year, will have a prototype ready to fly in the coming months.  Read More

Sniper ATP is being used on F-16's
 Photo: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin has integrated a prototype two-way video data link into the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod, providing it with roughly twice the data range of any other fielded targeting pod. The VDL, which provides forward deployed troops with the Sniper ATP’s real-time full resolution streaming video, was successfully demonstrated at the US Air Force Sniper user’s conference.  Read More

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