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Aviation


— Drones

Hovering kestrel inspires drone that gains altitude without using power

A near-future where the skies are filled with drones carrying out deliveries and surveillance might be hard to imagine, but it is something aerospace experts are already giving careful consideration to. Improving the efficiency of these vehicles, even at the margins, could mean huge energy savings and more reliable services across the board. To this end, Australian researchers have developed a fixed-wing aircraft that uses natural updrafts to climb higher, inspired by the ability of the kestrel falcon to hover while searching for prey on the ground.

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— Environment

Boeing may convert forestry waste into biofuel

If a recently-announced consortium of scientists and aviation companies is successful, you could one day be flying in jets powered by the remains of decay – otherwise known as biofuel from forest-industry waste. The project will be led by the University of British Columbia (UBC) and NORAM Engineering and Constructors, and includes aviation and related companies Boeing, Air Canada, WestJet, SkyNRG and Bombardier.

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— Drones

FAA beta testing B4UFLY smartphone app to keep drone pilots informed

Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have quickly gained popularity with the public. And as is so often the case with rapidly advancing technologies, it can be hard for the public to know legally what they can and can't do with the technology – or in the case of drones, where they can and can't fly. To help dispel confusion surrounding drone flights, the US FAA is beta testing its B4UFLY smartphone app, which tells users about any restrictions on unmanned aircraft they might want to fly in a particular area.

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— Aircraft

Next leg of Solar Impulse round-the-world flight pushed back to April 2016

The Solar Impulse team has announced that the completion of its round-the-world solar flight will now be postponed until next April. The batteries of the Solar Impulse 2 solar-powered aircraft sustained damage as the aircraft ascended to an optimal energy-management altitude of 28,000 ft (8,534 m) on the first day of its ambitious Japan-to-Hawaii flight. It is believed that a high rate of climb coupled with over-insulation of the gondolas resulted in irreversible overheating damage to the aircraft's batteries.

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— Aircraft

World-first remote air traffic control system lands in Sweden

Small airports are often in a no-win situation. They don't have much traffic because they don't have an adequate tower system, and they don't have an adequate tower system because they don't have much traffic. That could be about to change, with the opening of the world's first remotely operated air-traffic control system in Sweden. Thanks to the Remote Tower Services (RTS) system, the first plane landed last week at Örnsköldsvik Airport, but it was controlled from the LFV Remote Tower Centre 123 km away in Sundsvall. Read More
— Aircraft

Twin-fuselage Carplane prototype makes public debut

We've been teased with the prospect of a flying car for years now, with many designs, like the Terrafugia Transition, having been under development for some time but yet to arrive in garages or hangars. The Braunschweig-based company, Carplane hopes to square the circle with a twin-fuselage roadable monoplane that made its first public appearance in prototype form at the recent AERO show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Read More
— Military

X-47B completes first ever unmanned refueling exercise

The US Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft has gone out on a high note (and added yet another acronym to the military lexicon) by conducting the first ever Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) exercise. The autonomous aircraft rendezvoused with an Omega K-707 tanker plane off the coast of Maryland and Virginia, successfully taking on 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) of jet fuel as it completed the project's final test objective. Read More
— Aircraft

Siemens' world-record electric aircraft motor punches above its weight

Researchers at Siemens have created a new prototype electric motor specifically designed for aircraft that weighs in at just 50 kg (110 lb) and is claimed to produce about 260 kW (348 hp) at just 2,500 RPM. With a quoted power five times greater than any comparable powerplant, the new motor promises enough grunt to get aircraft with take-off weights of up to 1,800 kg (2 ton) off the ground. Read More
— Aircraft

Is Russia working on a crazy supersonic cargo plane?

A state-run Russian news site is reporting that the country has ambitions to build a huge, supersonic cargo plane capable of transporting tanks to the field in a matter of hours. While there's plenty of reason to be skeptical that transporting such heavy loads at high speeds is even feasible, let alone realistic, Russia's military is reportedly giving itself roughly the next decade to figure it out. Read More
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