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— Drones

Piaggio Aerospace announces first flight and sales of P.1HH HammerHead UAS

There's little doubt that drones will play an increasingly prevalent role in our skies in the future, so any aircraft manufacturer that wants to stay ahead of the curve is either already building them, has some in the pipeline, or is madly trying to get them up and flying. Piaggio Aerospace is not a newcomer to the game of flight by any stretch of the imagination, being one of the oldest airplane manufacturers in the world. It is, however, perceived as more of a civilian and business aircraft manufacturer. But it is determined to make its mark in the lucrative defense and security sector and the successful maiden test flight of its Prototype 001 P.1HH HammerHead UAS is an important step down that path. Read More
— Aircraft

Carbon nanotube-based anti-icing coating proves itself in wind tunnel testing

There are numerous types of systems designed to prevent ice forming on aircraft surfaces during flight. Some reroute hot air produced by jet engines, others generate their own heat, others knock ice off through mechanical force, while others still release antifreeze chemicals onto the wing. Battelle has recently tested its carbon nanotube-base HeatCoat technology that it claims is lighter and less power hungry than such systems. It also has no moving parts and could easily be retrofitted to existing aircraft. Read More
— Space

NASA tests TGALS glider-based satellite launch system

Recently, DARPA unveiled its ALASA system for launching satellites from fighter planes. Now NASA is upping the ante with its Towed Glider Air-Launch System (TGALS), which is designed to launch satellites from a twin-fuselage towed glider. Under development by NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, it's designed as an economical method for putting spacecraft into low-Earth orbit with the first test flight of a scale prototype having already been conducted. Read More
— Space

DARPA's ALASA space launch system would turn airports into spaceports

If you've ever dreamed of turning your municipal airport into a satellite launching facility, then DARPA has your number. At this week's 18th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, DC, Bradford Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office reported on the progress of the agency's Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is designed to launch 100-lb (45-kg) satellites into low-Earth orbit using an expendable rocket dropped from a conventional aircraft. Read More
— Drones

DJI firmware update makes the White House a drone no-fly zone

Following the crash-landing of a drone on the grounds of the White House last week, the Chinese manufacturer of said drone, DJI, has released new firmware to prevent overzealous pilots flying UAVs anywhere near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Available to download now for owners of the company's popular Phantom 2 drones, the update signals a willingness from the company to work with regulators to clear the air for safer drone flight. Read More
— Good Thinking

New maritime monitoring system would draw on existing satellites

According to a scientist from the University of Leicester in the UK, the search for missing ships and sea-crossing aircraft – such as Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 – would be much easier if existing satellites were simply used differently. Dr. Nigel Bannister is developing a system in which spacecraft that already keep an eye on the land could also turn their attention to the sea. Read More
— Drones

UAE dangles US$1 million in prize money to encourage Drones For Good

The word "drone" is synonymous with autonomous military aircraft that hail down death and destruction from on high. But the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is looking to highlight the humanitarian potential of the technology with its Drones For Good competition. Entrants include vehicles that detect landmines, plant trees and service slums all in the hunt for the industry's most prestigious (and probably only) prize, with the inaugural first place winner set to be announced next week to take home US$1 million. Read More
— Military

KC-46A tanker program makes first test flight

Boeing and the US Air force have announced the successful first test flight of the KC-46A tanker program. Set to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers, the KC-46A is designed to act primarily as an airborne refueling tanker, but can also carry passengers and cargo, or act as a medivac airplane. Read More