CUTTING EDGE DEVELOPMENTS
Makes ‘Flea Hop’
FIRST SOLAR FLIGHTS COMING SOON
DÜB SOLAR IMPULSE HB-SIA, the first airplane designed to fly day and night
without fuel, left the ground for the first time on Thursday, December 3, in
Switzerland in what the Solar Impulse team called a “flea hop.” After several
weeks of ground tests to verify braking, engine output, and controllability,
the design team gave test pilot Markus Scherdel the go-ahead to take the prototype up to its takeoff speed.
The four-engine aircraft, with wings as wide as an airliner’s, lifted off and
flew for 1 ,200 feet at a height of 3 feet above the runway. At this stage the
solar panels have not yet been connected. With the positive conclusion of
this initial hop, the Solar Impulse will now be dismantled and transported to
the airfield at Payerne, Switzerland. Starting in early 2010, the aircraft will be
making its first solar test flights, gradually increasing flight duration until it
makes its first night flight using solar energy. The goal for the project is to fly
the aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean and eventually around the world. For a
link to video of the first flight visi t www.SportAviation.org.
AERO INNOVATIONS aims to highlight developments that have potential to impact the future of aviation. EAA does not necessarily endorse the ideas, products, services, or views contained therein.
For more information and direct links to all the Aero Innovations stories, visit www.SportAviation.org
MAY ALTER FUTURE
CLAY CAN EXFOLIATE
AIRCRAFT SKIN, TOO.
DARPA’S GOALS FOR VULTURE are
not trivial: 450kg/ 1,000lb payload, 5k W of onboard power, and
sufficient loiter speed to stay on
station for five years against winds
encountered at 60,000-90,000 feet.
If Vulture reached its goals, it
could act as a substitute for communications relay or
A NEW NANOCLAY BLAST media provides improved surface preparation
and removal of coatings on aircraft
surfaces. It is designed to safely and
quickly remove epoxy primers and
polyurethane topcoats from sensitive metal or composite substrates.
“Coatings can be removed with virtually no damage to such substrates,
leaving protective coatings such as
cladding and anodizing intact.” says
an online Nano Patents and
Innovations report by Alton Parrish.
A NORTH DAKOTA COMPANY has
combined UAV and autogyro technology to offer a trailer that can be
towed behind an aircraft. Air Trailer
is undergoing flight tests and features a small electric driven
pre-rotator motor to spin the rotor
to about 50 percent of rpm needed
for flight; the forward airflow of the
towing aircraft does the rest. The
company claims it can double the
payload a tow airplane can pull and
deliver cargo in tight places.
THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA is
researching what aircraft designers
could learn by imitating shark skin.
They hope to discover new methods
to increase performance by decreasing drag. Specifically, they are
studying how flexible shark scales
can lead to the formation of embedded vortices between the scales in
areas where the flow is about to separate from the shark’s body.