Category Archives: Future Aircrafts

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Dubai Signs Volocopter for Autonomous Air Taxi Trials

Dubai Signs Volocopter for Autonomous Air Taxi Trials

By Ofonime Essien

Volocopter Air Taxi

The Volocopter 2X

German start-up Volocopter has signed an agreement with the Dubai government to begin testing its pilotless, electric multicopter in the emirate from the fourth quarter.

The appointment forms part of Dubai’s strategy to shift 25% of all passenger travel to autonomous transport by 2030.


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The trials have been scheduled to run for five years, in collaboration with the road and transport authority (RTA), says Volocopter co-founder Alexander Zosel.

The company, based in Karlsruhe, made the first manned flight of an electric multicopter in 2011.

This latest model, the Volocopter 2X, was unveiled earlier this year. It features two-seats, 18 rotors, fully redundant powertrains, a full aircraft emergency parachute system and nine independent battery systems with battery charging time of 40min.

Volocopter says the Dubai air taxi trials will allow the 2X to be tested under “extreme climatic conditions”.


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Zosel describes the emirate as a “pioneer for a huge evolving market” for autonomous urban air taxis, and he is confident their popularity will spread to other global metropolitan areas. “We now have a fantastic opportunity to work with the RTA on the development and testing of the entire future ecosystem for safe autonomous air transport using Dubai as a first showcase project,” he says.

The 2X is designed with a flight time of 30min, a cruise speed of 27kt (50km/h) and a top speed of 100km/h. It measures about 2m (6ft 6in) in height, and the diameter of the rotor rim including propellers is about 7m, Volocopter says.

(Flight Global)

 

 

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Researchers Advance Propulsion Toward Low-Carbon Aircraft

Category : Future Aircrafts

Researchers Advance Propulsion Toward Low-Carbon Aircraft

By Ofonime Essien

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When Orville Wright traveled to Cleveland for the dedication of the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory in the 1940s, he had already witnessed the advancement of aircraft from his Kitty Hawk model to the winged machines that fought in World War II.

Today, the lab, now known as NASA Glenn Research Center, has engineers and scientists engaged in an agency-wide effort to develop alternative aircraft designs using low-carbon propulsion technology for larger passenger aircraft that Wright may have never dreamed of.

Read more:Dare to Dream

Since the beginning, commercial planes have been powered by carbon-based fuels such as gasoline or kerosene. While these provide the energy to lift large commercial jets into the world’s airspace, electric power is now seen as a new frontier for providing thrust and power for flight.

Just as hybrid or turboelectric power has improved fuel efficiency in cars, boats and trains, aeronautical engineers are exploring how planes can be redesigned and configured with electrical power.

One of NASA’s goals is to help the aircraft industry shift from relying solely on gas turbines to using hybrid electric and turboelectric propulsion in order to reduce energy consumption, emissions and noise.

“Aircraft are highly complex machines,” says Jim Heidmann, manager for NASA’s Advanced Air Transport Technology project.  “Moving toward alternative systems requires creating new aircraft designs as well as propulsion systems that integrate battery technologies and electromagnetic machines like motors and generators with more efficient engines.”

Read more:Pilotless Drone to Transport Humans

Glenn researchers are looking at power systems that generate electricity in place of, or in addition to, thrust at the turbine engine and then convert that electricity to be converted into thrust using fans at other places on the aircraft.

“These systems use electric motors and generators that work together with turbine engines to distribute power throughout the aircraft in order to reduce drag for a given amount of fuel burned,” says Amy Jankovsky, subproject lead engineer.  “Part of our research is developing the lightweight machinery and electrical systems that will be required to make these systems possible.”

In addition to designing better motors, generators and integrated electrical system architectures, Glenn engineers are also researching the basic materials that go into those components.  Research is being performed on the conductors inside, and the insulation around the wires.  Along with studying the design of motors and the architecture of power electronics, engineers are improving magnetic materials and semi-conductors to make these motors and electronics lighter and more efficient.

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“Our work is laying a foundation for planes that will require less fossil fuel in the future,” says Glenn Engineer Cheryl Bowman, a technical lead on the project.  “Considering that the U.S. aviation industry carries over 700 million passengers every year, making each trip more fuel efficient (by up to 30 percent) can have a considerable impact on the nation’s total use of fossil fuels.”

Source:NASA

 

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Pilotless drone to transport humans, on display

Pilotless drone to transport humans, on display

By Ofonime Essien

 

Pilotless drone

Ehang 184

 

Chinese drone maker Ehang has unveiled what it calls the world’s first drone capable of carrying a human passenger.

The Guangzhou, China-based company pulled the cloth off the Ehang 184 at the Las Vegas Convention Center during the CES gadget show. In a company video showing it flying, it looks like a small helicopter but with four doubled propellers spinning parallel to the ground like other drones.

The electric-powered drone can be fully charged in two hours, carry up to 100kg and fly for 23 minutes at sea level, according to Ehang.

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The cabin fits one person. With propellers folded up, it’s designed to fit in a single parking spot.

After setting a flight plan, passengers only need to give two commands, ‘take off’ and ‘land’, each controlled by a single click on a Microsoft Surface tablet, the company said.

It is designed to fly about 300 metres off the ground with a top speed of 100km/h.

Read more:How I Became a Helicopter Pilot

US authorities are just starting to lay out guidelines for drone use, and a human-passenger drone seems certain to face strict scrutiny.

Ehang co-founder Shang Hsiao said the company hopes to sell the device for $US200,000 (A$282,000) to $US300,000 beginning this year but acknowledged it occupies a legal ‘grey area.’

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‘The whole world never had something like this before,’ he said.

A passenger would have no controls as a back-up, he said. In the event of a problem the company plans a remote control centre that would take over the vehicle and ensure it lands safely, he said.

Source: Sky News

 

 

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Airbus Receives Patent Approval for Detachable Plane Cabins

Airbus Receives Patent Approval for Detachable Plane Cabins

By Ofonime Essien

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The designs, filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, demonstrate how the idea would work in order to cut down on boarding times meaning planes spending less time on the ground.

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It would mean passengers would board a cabin which would then be placed on a plane similar to how shipping containers are transported.

“The period of imobilisation on the ground of the aeroplanes between two successive flights increases their operational cost. Indeed, the longer this period of immobilisation, the less actual flight time of each aeroplane,” Airbus stated in its filing.

“A long period of immobilisation on the ground can also result in additional fuel consumption.”

An Airbus ‘pod concept’ design for planes with detachable cabins according to technology publication Wired, which first reported the filing, Airbus added: “Passengers could be pre-seated in cabin pods before the plane actually arrives, ready for integration on the aircraft, saving time and making processing much simpler.”

The aircraft manufacturer also believes its proposal – dubbed the “aircraft pod concept” will allow planes to be modified quickly and easily.

This could allow changes to allow “different levels of comfort” for passengers.

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However, Airbus’ proposal requires new docking stations and equipment to transport the “pods” between the airport and the plane.

Airbus filed the patent in February 2013 but it was only approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office earlier this week.

Source: Belfast Telegraph

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Sky Whale

Sky Whale

The future of air travel? Three-storey Sky Whale fits 755 passengers, has virtual reality windows and self-healing wings

By Ofonime Essien

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  • Concept vehicle would have wingspan of 88m and seat 755 passengers
  • Designer Oscar Viñals said it would split passengers into three classes
  • Each would have their own deck in a modern-day version of the Titanic
  • Everyone on board would have virtual reality windows for entertainment

It has three decks, tilting Harrier-style jets and breaks itself up into pieces during a crash landing – and could be the future of air travel.

Called Sky Whale, the concept aeroplane it set to be bigger than an Airbus A380, look like a spacecraft and have ‘self-healing’ wings that repair themselves.

The aircraft would split passengers into three classes, each with their own deck, in a modern-day version of the Titanic’s strict division of passengers.

SKY WHALE’S SPECIFICATIONS

Capacity: 755 passengers

Wingspan: 88m

Length: 77m

Decks: 3

Classes: Tourist class with sky views, business class and first class

Other features: Self-healing wings, engines that tilt 45-degrees making it possible to take off on the spot, double fuselage and virtual reality windows.

Every passenger would additionally have virtual reality windows to keep themselves entertained on long flights.

The AWWA Sky Whale was created by Spanish designer Oscar Viñals and is so big it was  described by Dvice as looking ‘more like something thought up for the Transformers movie franchise than a legitimate aircraft’.

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The tilting engines would make it possible for the Sky Whale to take off on the spot – and, according to the plans, if it crashes the passenger section would separate from the wings to reduce the loss of life.

The craft matches advances in technology with a huge capacity of 755 passengers, making it economically viable for an airline.

The plane would seat 755 passengers, making it economically viable for an airline, such as Iberia, pictured in this concept illustration. Passengers would be divided into three classes: ‘tourist class’, the equivalent of economy, ‘tourist class with sky views’, or business class, and ‘first class’

The Sky Whale, pictured, would be built out of advanced new materials made up of ceramic or fibre composites. It would also have advanced ‘active wings’ powered by a hybrid turbo-electric propulsion system making them much more efficient than today

The Sky Whale would have a wingspan of 88m compared to 80m for an Airbus A380 and 64m for a Boeing 747.

The three classes would be ‘tourist class’, the equivalent of economy, ‘tourist class with sky views’, or business class, and finally ‘first class’, which would also have sky views and ‘all conceivable luxuries’.

It is not clear how passengers would be able to look at the view, though given the size of the craft it is likely to have larger windows than those fitted to the back of current plane seat ones.

Those in economy would not be without, though – their windows would be fitted with virtual reality screens so passengers could see whatever they want.

According to Vinals’ concept plans, the giant aircraft would be powered by three Harrier-style jets and feature a double fuselage, meaning it could go longer without refuelling. There would also be micro solar cells on the wings that could draw power from the sun

The Sky Whale, pictured top, would have a wingspan of 88m compared to 80m for an Airbus A380, pictured bottom, and 64m for a Boeing 747, pictured in the centre

The Sky Whale would also be longer than current commercial aircraft at 77m. By comparison, the Airbus A380 is 67.9m long while the Boeing 747 is 76m long, pictured

Viñals, who is based in Barcelona, said the Sky Whale would be built out of advanced new materials made up of ceramic or fibre composites.

It would have advanced ‘active wings’ powered by a hybrid turbo-electric propulsion system making   them much more efficient than today.

The Sky Whale would have a double fuselage meaning it could go longer without refuelling and would have micro solar cells on the wings so that it could draw power from the sun.

According to Viñals, the engines could tilt to up to 45 degrees meaning they could land on tiny runways anywhere in the world.

They would be controlled by a fly-by wire system that is assisted with active sensors located through the plane’s surface.

In addition to being able to land on small runways, the tilting engines would also make it possible for the plane to take off on the spot. These engines would be controlled by a fly-by wire system assisted with active sensors located through the plane’s surface

If the Sky Whale has to make a crash landing, the passenger section would separate from the wings to reduce the loss of life. The effect of all the technology is to reduce drag, fuel consumption and weight, making it one of the greenest aircrafts imaginable

Writing about the way the plane could break up, Viñals said: ‘The disposition of the wings and its architecture separates from the airplane’s fuselage like a security measure, that in a hypothetical fatal case of an emergency landing, these could auto-break up to reduce the damages on the passengers section.’

The effect of all the technology is to reduce drag, fuel consumption and weight, making it one of the greenest aircraft imaginable.

In his proposal Viñals said the Sky Whale ‘is a concept about the future ‘green’ aircraft designs for the regular airline’s planes of the 21st century…

‘…Is a mixture between today’s airplanes and future concepts based in blended wing body or hybrid wing body architecture.’

Designer Vinals has not announced any plans to build the concept aircraft, pictured

In his proposal Vinals said the Sky Whale ‘is a concept about the future ‘green’ aircraft designs for the regular airline’s planes of the 21st century. [It] is a mixture between today’s airplanes and future concepts based in blended wing body or hybrid wing body architecture’
Source: Daily Mail

 

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NASA Researcher Develops Model that Could Quiet Down Noisy Helicopters

Category : Future Aircrafts

NASA Researcher Develops Model that Could Quiet Down Noisy Helicopters

By Ofonime Essien

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If you live in a relatively well-populated area, you’ve probably experienced it — the noisy whop-whop-whop of a helicopter flying overhead, adding unwelcome racket to a family dinner or peaceful walk in the park.

Eric Greenwood, a research aerospace engineer at NASA Langley, is pictured here in one of the center’s mobile acoustic labs, in which he and other researchers can conduct field studies of rotorcraft noise.

eric_greenwood_3

Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman

It’s an occasional, minor nuisance in smaller towns and cities.

But in metropolises like Los Angeles and New York, where news, police, medical and sightseeing helicopters often clutter the sky, it’s become a serious problem.

“People in those communities are becoming so annoyed by the helicopter overflight noise that they’re looking into local regulations and restricting the kinds of helicopter operations that can be done in those areas,” said Eric Greenwood, a research aerospace engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Residents in both those cities (and others — you can add San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Boston to the list) may be relieved to hear that the NASA Langley researcher is on the case.

Greenwood, who specializes in rotorcraft research, has developed a method he calls Fundamental Rotorcraft Acoustic Modeling for Experiments, or FRAME, that could soon help reduce some of that pesky, problematic helicopter noise.

FRAME works by bringing together two key elements: researchers’ basic understanding of the physics of rotorcraft noise and existing noise data from flight tests and wind tunnel measurements.

By tuning that base physics knowledge to the existing test data, Greenwood is able to predict, with accuracy, where noise will become a problem in untested — or even untestable — flight scenarios.

“With the conventional modeling that we’ve been using so far you really are only able to take the data you collect and replay exactly those same conditions,” he said. “[FRAME] lets you generalize noise data you’ve collected to any other sort of operating conditions.”

Greenwood recently presented a paper at the American Helicopter Society International’s 71st Annual Forum and Technology Display that compared his FRAME predictions with noise data he and some colleagues collected during helicopter flight tests in 2011 at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida’s panhandle.

In 2011, Eric Greenwood traveled to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida’s panhandle to collect noise data from a series of flight tests of a Bell 430 helicopter. Pictured, from left, are Bell Helicopter’s Royce Snider, NASA Langley’s Mike Watts and Greenwood.

greenwoodeglin

Credits: NASA

The flight test data and the FRAME predictions had “very good agreement,” according to Greenwood. “We were able to show that the effect of maneuver noise could be as much as a 10 decibel change relative to what happens to a helicopter in steady flight.”

To the average human ear, that 10-decibel change would sound twice as loud.

The distinctive noise a helicopter makes is the result of a phenomenon called blade-vortex interaction. When a helicopter’s rotor blade hits the wake vortex formed by the blade in front of it, it causes that pulsing, whop-whop-whop sound.

With FRAME giving researchers the ability to predict when and where that sound will become an issue, Greenwood believes residents in cities like Los Angeles and New York could be on the verge of getting a little relief from the noise.

“Now that we have a model that works,” he said, “our hope for the near future is to be able to use this model to come up with guidance for helicopter pilots and operators as to how they can fly more quietly.”

It could be as simple as having a pilot execute a right turn in a way that produces less noise.

“There are different ways you might be able to do that right turn,” Greenwood said. “You could accelerate when you go into that turn. You could climb as you turn.”

As one might imagine, Greenwood’s research has snagged the interest of the military, too. The same flight adjustments that would reduce noise complaints in Las Vegas could help an Army helicopter make a quieter approach into a treacherous battlefield situation.

Whether the application is civilian or military, Greenwood imagines his research could open the door to a future where helicopters have built-in, computerized guidance controls.

“Imagine if I had a helicopter where if I’m about to go into a noisy place, the stick forces get a little stronger,” he said. “I’m still the pilot in command. I can do whatever I want, but it’s giving me a subtle nudge toward a quieter direction.”

It’s a future a noise-weary New Yorker would probably love to see come to fruition.

Source: NASA

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Fastest Helicopter In The World 2013 Eurocopter X3 302mph

Fastest Helicopter In The World 2013 Eurocopter X3 302mph

By Ofonime Essien

 

The fastest helicopter in the world 2013 Eurocopter X3 reaches 302mph.

A revolutionary new “hybrid tilt-rotor” aircraft has set a new record for the fastest helicopter – an epically swift 302mph.

The feat eclipses the previous record of 287.7mph set by a Sikorsky’s X2 in 2010.

The Eurocopter X3 uses three rotary blades – one main one on top of the aircraft and a further two pointing forward attached to stubby wings.

Based on the more traditional EC155, the X3 uses two Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 turboshaft engines, each one capable of producing 2270 HP.

During testing in Southern France a previous flight earlier in the month saw the X3 hitting 293mph.

Eurocopter X3

Test pilot, Hervé Jammayrac, said: “It’s no exaggeration to say that the X3 is clearly in its element at high speeds.

“While flying at both 255 knots and 263 knots, the X3 performed exactly as it has throughout its flight envelope, exhibiting outstanding stability and providing a low vibration level without any anti-vibration system.”

Despite still being a concept, Eurocopter sees great promise for the aircraft.

X3c

Its speed and potential range suit it to search and rescue while its high cruise altitude of 12,500 feet and vertical take off and landing (VTOL) mean it is ideal for special forces missions.

Its makers also envisage further models with increased passenger capacity providing a more versatile commuting alternative to jets.

Source: Huffington Post

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