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Flight

If you've ever seen a bat in flight, then you'll know how quickly and precisely they can maneuver. Scientists from Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the University of Maryland have now uncovered one of the key factors that allows them to do so – and it could have applications in the design of aircraft.

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Switzerland has joined an elite club with its first homegrown business jet taking to the air for the first time. With the call sign of HB-VXA, the twin-engine prototype Pilatus Aircraft PC-24 Super Versatile Jet made its maiden flight last week, traveling from Buochs Airport in a 55-minute journey across central Switzerland to Brünig.

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If you've ever watched a flying bird weaving its way through a forest, you may have wondered how it could do so without hitting its wings on the trees. Well, birds actually do hit trees with their wings. Unlike the rigid wings of an aircraft, however, birds' wings simply fold back under impact, then immediately fold open again to maintain flight. Now, scientists from Stanford University have developed wings for flapping-wing drones that do the same thing. Read More
Most modern aircraft, cruise missiles, spacecraft – in fact, almost all flying vehicles – use an accelerometer for flight stabilization. Living creatures that fly, on the other hand, rely on their own innate sense of balance determined by environmental observation and inbuilt organ-based systems. Now French researchers have designed a bio-inspired, sight-based system that could be used in conjunction with accelerometers to vastly increase the autonomous capabilities of drones by endowing them with more natural flying abilities. Read More
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
Have you ever wondered how many helium-filled balloons it would take to lift you up and let you fly among the clouds? Extreme sports enthusiast Erik Roner recently found out. Roner attached 90 helium-filled balloons to a sun lounger and rose to 8,000 ft (2,438 m). Read More
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
Last year's redesign of the long-awaited Martin Jetpack was accompanied by plans to begin commercial sales in 2014, starting with emergency response services and individual sales to follow thereafter. The release date for the first responder Jetpack has since been revised to 2016, a prediction bolstered by the fresh announcement of a partnership between Martin Aircraft Company and US company Avwatch to develop air-based, first responder solutions for the US Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense. Read More
It's hard not to get caught up in the romance of delivery drones, especially when start-ups keep producing spiffy promotional videos set in a fantastical land of airborne courier services. But underneath all this hoopla, progress is certainly being made. London-based Bizzby Sky has begun trials of its autonomous drone delivery service, claiming it is capable of shipping small objects at the touch of a smartphone button. Read More
Turbulence can be unpleasant enough for passengers in full-sized aircraft, but it's even more of a challenge for unmanned micro air vehicles (MAVs) – a good gust can blow one of the little drones completely off course, or even cause it to crash. That's why a team from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, has looked to birds for a solution. The result is a system that detects turbulence before it buffets the MAV, allowing the aircraft to anticipate it and thus maintain a smoother flight. The technology could also be applicable to regular airplanes. Read More
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