Solar-powered aircraft could spend six months in the stratosphere at a time

Image:The solar-powered Zephyr aircraft could soon be spending up to six months in the air at a time

The aircraft could be used for internet connectivity as well as for military purposes, and Airbus has previously signed deals to provide versions of it to the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

Airbus has flown a solar-powered aircraft on two 18-day trips, and says the Zephyr could soon spend six months in the air at a time.

The skinny plane, which resembles an unmanned glider although it has two small propellers, has had two test flights in civilian airspace.

It operates in the stratosphere, higher than planes but lower than satellites, and the company hopes it could help bring internet connectivity to billions of people around the world.

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With NASA partnership, Orlando begins planning for air taxis, flying cars

A rendering of a Lillium jet in flight. The company is planning to build a vertiport in Lake Nona.

By Tribune Content Agency

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando is preparing for when flying cars are an option for those who want to soar over congested highways or between nearby cities. And they may arrive far sooner than 2062, as “The Jetsons” predicted.

The city has signed onto a partnership with NASA to develop strategies for welcoming electric oversized drones, which take off vertically from landing pads called vertiports. The city’s first vertiport, to be built by the German company Lillium, is planned for the Lake Nona area.

Though officials suspect the mode of transportation could take off in coming years, so far the Federal Aviation Authority hasn’t approved any such vehicles for use. But a recent study found that a piece of a projected $2.5 billion market could be in play for early adopters of the technology.

“We’ve heard from different operators that their hope is to be in operation with passengers sometime in the 2024-2025 time frame,” said Jacques Coulon, an Orlando transportation planning projects coordinator. “For us, that means they’ll want to have a vertiport in place and so we’ll need to have regulations set and full understanding of what those impacts are before then.”

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Craft Aerospace’s novel take on VTOL aircraft could upend local air travel – TechCrunch

By Laurie Foti

Air taxis may still be pie in the sky, but there’s more than one way to move the air travel industry forward. Craft Aerospace aims to do so with a totally new vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that it believes could make city-to-city hops simpler, faster, cheaper and greener.

The aircraft — which, to be clear, is still in small-scale prototype form — uses a new VTOL technique that redirects the flow of air from its engines using flaps rather than turning them (like the well-known, infamously unstable Osprey), making for a much more robust and controllable experience.

Co-founder James Dorris believes that this fast, stable VTOL craft is the key that unlocks a new kind of local air travel, eschewing major airports for minor ones or even heliports. Anyone that’s ever had to take a flight that lasts under an hour knows that three times longer is spent in security lines, gate walks and, of course, getting to and from these necessarily distant major airports.

“We’re not talking about flying wealthy people to the mall — there are major inefficiencies in major corridors,” Dorris told TechCrunch. “The key to shortening that delay is picking people up in cities and dropping them off in cities. So for these short hops, we need to combine the advantages of fixed-wing aircraft and VTOL.”

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Solar-Powered Unmanned Aircraft Closer to Revolutionizing Telecommunication

By Otilia Drăgan

You’ve probably heard of satellite advancements that are taking telecommunication systems and capabilities to the next level, but did you know that there’s an unmanned, solar-powered aircraft that’s about to revolutionize telecommunications services? 9 photos

High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) are an alternative to satellites operating in the stratosphere instead of space. HAPSMobile, a subsidiary of a Japanese corporation called SoftBank, is one of the pioneers in this rising industry and developed the Sunglider. 

This innovative aircraft is meant to carry the telecommunications payload to the required area, and the fact that it’s been backed by NASA shows the importance and potential of this new way of providing connectivity. In addition, this norm-breaking air vehicle was supposed to stay at operational altitudes for a long time without having to return to the ground for refueling.  

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Autonomous High-Speed Test Vehicle Gearing up to Revolutionize Hypersonic Flight

By Otilia Drăgan

Supersonic and hypersonic aircraft are slowly but surely coming back to the forefront of aviation. NASA is in the last development stages of its supersonic research aircraft, X-59, and Stratolaunch is getting ready to operate its first hypersonic test vehicle, the Talon-A. 8 photos

Despite previous attempts, the hypersonic flight is still in its infancy and requires a lot of testing, which wouldn’t be possible without an adequate launch platform. Stratolaunch first developed Roc, the world’s largest airplane, meant to act as a multi-vehicle carrier aircraft for hypersonic test vehicles. Roc has already completed two test flights, with several others to follow.

Another recent milestone for Stratolaunch is the successful completion of the Critical Design Review (CDR) for its first hypersonic vehicle, the Talon-A, which was carried and launched by the Roc. 

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Airbus gears up for hydrogen jet as fuel of future edges closer to reality

According to Airbus, the moment of hydrogen is approaching rapidly. Guillaume Foley, chief executive officer of an airplane maker, has been talked about as a fuel for the future for years, but by the end of the decade the company will manufacture hydrogen-powered commercial airliners. He said he was ready to start.

European aerospace champions are skeptical among other industry leaders about how quickly gas can affect aviation emissions, but the 2035 will be the “ for hydrogen planes to go into service. I am more and more convinced that it is a fair and realistic perspective. 

“You don’t have to change the laws of physics to deal with hydrogen. Hydrogen has three times the energy density of kerosene — [technically it] Foley told reporters at an Airbus event on sustainability in Toulouse.

Foley’s comments show Airbus’ growing confidence that it can tackle the complex engineering and safety challenges needed to make hydrogen-powered aircraft work. However, Foley warned that government and regulatory support would be needed. 

Airbus needs to have “some degree of certainty” about the regulated environment and fuel availability by 2027/28, when the company must decide whether to invest billions of dollars in its new hydrogen airplane program. Said there is. 

“this [decarbonisation] The challenge is not just for airplanes, but for getting the right fuel, the right hydrogen, at the right time, at the right place, at the right price, which aviation cannot manage on its own, “he said. 

Foley’s remarks underscore the growing urgency of the aviation industry as it strives to reach its zero-emissions goal by 2050. Before the pandemic led to many landings of the world’s aircraft fleet, aviation accounted for about 2.4% of the world’s emissions. 

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Airbus Jumps Into Electric Air Taxi Race

By Madhu Unnikrishnan

The electric aircraft market has gone from zero to 60 in just a matter of months, now that one of the world’s largest airframers has entered the race. Airbus said its Helicopters division is developing an electric take off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi that could take its first flight in 2023. 

This is in stark contrast to Airbus archrival Boeing, which just last week committed only to consider alternative propulsion technologies in the near- to medium-term. 

Meanwhile, Brazil’s Gol is committing to order up to 250 Vertical Aerospace eVTOLs through lessor Avolon and in partnership with Grupo Comparte to create an urban air taxi platform for country’s most congested cities. Gol’s proposed equity partner American Airlines also has a commitment for Vertical Aerospace’s VA-X4 aircraft.

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Air travel’s future may include virtual cabin windows – take a look

The virtual airplane window also incorporates touchless technlogy.

by Francesca Street

Looking out the cabin window and seeing cities and oceans from above is, for many of us, one of the joys of flying.

But aviation innovators Rosen Aviation reckon this experience could be taken to the next level, rendering actual airplane windows obsolete.

The American aviation company is touting its Maverick Project airplane cabin design as the next frontier of inflight experience. A key part of the package? Virtual windows.

“The Maverick Project was born from trying to bring tomorrow’s technology into tomorrow’s plane,” says Lee Clark, Rosen’s senior VP for strategy.

Clark tells CNN Travel that while some of these features have become more common on the ground in recent years — think smart homes — airplane cabins haven’t really caught up.

“The Maverick Project originated because the industry at large is somewhat lagging behind the domestic, residential and automotive worlds,” he says.

Rosen, working in collaboration with KiPcreating and Sky-Style, wants to change this dynamic with the Maverick Project.

But while the visual renderings look flashy, Clark says the goal isn’t to go high tech simply for the sake of it.

“The critical piece is it’s about the passenger experience, it’s not about the technology,” says Clark.

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Bell’s Plan To Finally Realize A Rotorcraft That Flies Like A Jet But Hovers Like A Helicopter

After 50 years of sporadic development, Bell thinks it can build a survivable, long-range, high-speed, VTOL aircraft adapted to tomorrow’s wars. 

Bell has provided The War Zone with exclusive details about its recently revealed concepts for future High-Speed Vertical Take-Off and Landing, or HSVTOL, aircraft, which we looked at initially in this previous article. While being able to takeoff and land vertically using rotors and fly at jet speeds in forward flight sounds far-fetched, it turns out that there is decades of elaborate risk reduction work and general research already done on this exact concept. As such, actually realizing such a capability set may be far less of a technological revolution than one would think at first glance. 

The War Zone sat down, virtually at least, with Jeff Nissen, Senior Manager Advanced Technology at Bell Flight, to talk about how the company has got to this point in its HSVTOL endeavors, as well as looking at some of the details of its latest concepts and how they could find a place in the U.S. military’s inventory.

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Radically New Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology to Transform Aviation, Backed by USAF

by Otilia Drăgan

As exciting as green air mobility sounds, it’s largely dependent on the development of battery and hydrogen fuel cell technology. Without the continuous improvement of these technologies, innovative types of aircraft, such as vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (VTOLs), won’t be able to operate on a large scale. 6 photos

According to research cited by HyPoint, a company that’s developing hydrogen fuel cell systems for aeronautics, the global hydrogen aircraft market is estimated to grow rapidly within the next decades, getting from $27 billion in 2030 to $174 billion by 2040. On the other hand, studies also show that the eVTOL market is growing just as fast, so it makes sense to predict that developing hydrogen fuel cells for eVTOLs is becoming increasingly important.

HyPoint has just taken an important step in this direction, by partnering with Piasecki Aircraft Corporation, a rotorcraft and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) platforms manufacturer, for the development of a certified hydrogen fuel cell system for eVTOLs. The $6.5 million agreement is focused on Piasecki’s PA-890 compound helicopter, which is set to become the world’s first hydrogen-powered manned helicopter.

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World’s Smallest Satellite Communications System Now Integrated on Autonomous eVTOLs

by Otilia Drăgan

Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft are evolving fast and are already starting to change cargo operations. You may not be familiar with the funny-sounding name Pipistrel, but this Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer is at the forefront of electric and autonomous aviation. Most recently, it has equipped its autonomous cargo eVTOL, Nuuva V300, with revolutionary satellite communications technology. 

The Nuuva V300 is an autonomous eVTOL specifically developed for aerial cargo delivery. The 1,000 lbs (460 kg) payload, fully autonomous flight capacity and long range are just some of its main advantages. Another huge benefit is that it doesn’t require a runway, which means it can conduct air cargo operations even in areas where runways aren’t available. Plus, it’s supposed to have a ten times lower operating cost, compared to helicopters.

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This Strange Electric Aircraft Is A VTOL You Can Fly Without A License

This electric-powered VTOL looks straight out of a movie.

By Mercedes Streeter

One of the weirdest aircraft to fly in EAA AirVenture this year is an electric VTOL. The Opener Blackfly is an aircraft that you can fly without a pilot license, but there’s a catch.

Every summer, thousands of aviation enthusiasts and Experimental Aircraft Association members descend on Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to enjoy a festival of all things flight. You’ll see all sorts of machines at an EAA AirVenture from vintage military aircraft and one-off experiments to the latest concepts. One of the weirder vehicles to show up at AirVenture this year was the Opener Blackfly. 

We’ve covered this machine a couple of times before. It’s been described as a flying car by the New York Times, but I don’t think that’s an appropriate designation. This cannot drive on the ground and its flying characteristics seem closer to a helicopter or drone than a plane.

The pilot sits in the middle with fixed wings in front and rear. On those wings are four propellers that allow it to take off and land vertically with a takeoff run of only 36 inches. 

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