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.
Any masochists who think spending just under 17 hours on a flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Sydney just isn’t long enough are set to get a chance to test their endurance further. Airbus is to supply Singapore Airlines with seven Ultra-Long Range versions of its A350-900 that can fly for up to 19 hours non-stop, allowing the airline to relaunch direct flights between Singapore and the US, including New York.
Shaving a few minutes off flight times mightn't seem like that big a deal, but with tens of thousands of aircraft jetting across the skies each day, the fuel and carbon emission savings would quickly add up if more direct routes were taken more often. NASA is looking to encourage exactly that with software for air carriers that monitors conditions like weather and flight paths to suggest faster routes. Virgin America and Alaska Airlines have answered the boarding call and will put the system through its paces over the next three years.
The Perlan Mission II glider, which is designed to fly higher than the U-2 spy plane and SR-71 Blackbird, has made its maiden flight. The aircraft separated from its towplane at an altitude of 5,000 feet above Roberts Field at Redmond Municipal Airport in Oregon, but is expected to go much higher next year when it makes a world altitude record attempt to the edge of space.
This July, we heard about how a group of aviation enthusiasts were building a flying replica of the radical Bugatti 100P racing aircraft. Named Reve Bleu (Blue Dream), it was undergoing taxi and engine testing at the time. This Wednesday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, however, it made its first flight – and did a nose-plant at the end.
Dubai-based airline Emirates has announced a new service between Dubai, UAE, and Panama City, Panama. The firm says Panama City will be its first gateway into Central America and that the service will be the world’s longest non-stop flight. It will cover 8,588 mi (13,821 km).
In nature, you're not likely to ever see a bird get a piggyback ride from a cockroach and then take off from its back. But in the world of bio-inspired robotics, such things can and do happen. Researchers from the UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab have successfully demonstrated a cooperative launching system that puts a lightweight ornithopter on the back of its VelociRoACH robotic carpet crawler for a short run before the H2Bird takes to the air.
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.
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.
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.