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Flight

Pascal Chretien's prototype electric helicopter takes flight

It's easy to look back at the history of exploration and aviation and feel like there's no mountains left to climb, that the age of the great pioneers is behind us and we're doomed to a future of LCD tanning and monitor hypnosis. But don't try telling that to Pascal Chretien. On August 12, this electrical/aerospace engineer and helicopter pilot took to the air in the world's first untethered, fully electric manned helicopter flight in a prototype machine that he designed and built almost entirely by himself within a 12 month development period. In his 2 minute, 10 second test flight, Chretien beat aviation giant Sikorsky into the record books - but it was not without significant risk. As the man himself puts it: "in case of crash I stand good chances to end up in kebab form."  Read More

DARPA's HTV-2 hypersonic vehicle, which prematurely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on ...

The first – and perhaps only – video footage of the ill-fated second test-flight of DARPA’s Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) has been released. Shot with a handheld camera by a crewmember aboard the Pacific Tracker, the first monitoring vessel able to visually track the HTV’s initial entry into the atmosphere, the video shows the HTV-2 hurtling across the sky on August 11 at Mach 20 before its “controlled descent” into the Pacific Ocean.  Read More

Boeing has demonstrated swarm technology using two ScanEagles (pictured) and a Procerus Un...

Individually, insects have proven a deep well of inspiration for robotics engineers looking to mimic designs refined over millions of years of evolution. Now Boeing has demonstrated swarm technology for reconnaissance missions using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that is similar to the way insects communicate and work together as an intelligent group. Potential uses for the technology include search-and-rescue missions and identifying enemy threats ahead of ground patrols.  Read More

The bloon is designed to fly passengers to near-space at an altitude of 36 km

While space tourism efforts by the likes of Space Adventures and Virgin Galactic are relying on the tried and true technology of rockets to launch paying customers into space, Barcelona-based company zero2infinity proposes a more leisurely and eco-friendly ride into near-space using a helium balloon. Designed to carry passengers to an altitude of 36 km (22 miles), an unmanned scale prototype bloon was flown to an altitude of 33 km (20 miles) last year and the company is already taking bookings for passenger flights that are expected to lift off sometime between 2013 and 2015.  Read More

The HTV-2 is designed to travel at speeds of Mach 20

On Thursday, DARPA's unmanned Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 (HTV-2) was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard an Air Force Minotaur IV rocket, which inserted the aircraft into the desired trajectory. After separation from the rocket, the vehicle transitioned to Mach 20 (approximately 13,000 mph/21,000 km/h) aerodynamic flight but a little after nine minutes of monitored flight the signal from the vehicle was lost with initial indications that the second test flight has ended in the same way as the first - with a crash into the Pacific Ocean.  Read More

The Quadshot is a remote-control model aircraft that can hover like a helicopter, or fly l...

Eurocopter's X3 hybrid helicopter demonstrator combined the full hover flight capabilities of a helicopter with the fast cruise speeds of a turboprop-powered aircraft by basically installing two propellers on short-span fixed wings to supplement the helicopter's five-blade main rotor system. Now a new type of remote control model aircraft is looking to combine the hover capabilities of a helicopter with the ability to fly like an airplane in a completely different design. Instead of the quadricopter design employed by the Parrot AR Drone, the Quadshot uses a "flying wing" design with its four rotors allowing it to hover vertically like a helicopter or turn horizontal and swoop through the air like a stunt plane.  Read More

Rockwell Collins touch-control primary flight display (PFD)

For the first 50 years of computing, the input and output of a computer have been to different places. Mobile computing and the touch screen are quickly changing things though and the changes extend to the aircraft industry. At the 59th Annual Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Airventure in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Rockwell Collins has unveiled the first touch-control primary flight displays (PFD) for business jets and turboprop aircraft, which will be available on future applications of the company’s Pro Line Fusion avionics system.  Read More

Sikorsky's X2 Technology Demonstrator on its final flight on July 14, 2011

Sikorsky’s X2 Technology Demonstrator that first took to the air on August 27, 2008 has flown for the last time. The 23rd and final flight was conducted in the early morning of July 14, 2011 from Sikorsky’s new Innovations Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. In flight tests carried out over the three-year period, the X2 flew a total of around 22 hours and on September 15, 2010 achieved a maximum cruise speed of 253 knots in level flight – an unofficial record for a conventional helicopter. While the X2 is now officially entering retirement, the lessons learned and technologies developed for the X2 program will pave the way for Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider helicopter.  Read More

An envisioned Personal Aerial Vehicle illustrates what our city skies could soon look like...

A European Union project known as myCopter has set aside funds of €4.2 million (US$6.2m) to investigate the possibility of introducing Personal Aerial Vehicles (PAVs) into the skyways of many congested European cities. This coming age of the "flying car" where vehicles leave the roads and launch into the skies promises to solve problems like dramatically rising urban traffic congestion, but it also throws up some formidable challenges - it's these challenges that the myCopter project aims to address.  Read More

Final checks to the X-51A Waverider scramjet, which is affixed to an Edwards B-52H Stratof...

The second hypersonic test flight of Boeing's X-51A Waverider has ended prematurely with the craft failing to transition to full power. The X-51A Waverider broke the record for the longest ever supersonic combustion scramjet-powered flight on its first autonomous flight in May 2010, flying under scramjet power for just under three and a half minutes at a top speed of Mach 5. For the second hypersonic flight test, the craft was expected to accelerate to about Mach 6, but only managed to accelerate to Mach 5 under solid rocket booster propulsion before the flight had to be terminated.  Read More

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