After smoke was found pouring into one of its Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" planes yesterday, forcing an emergency landing, Japan's All Nippon Airways grounded its entire fleet of 787s. Japan's Transport Ministry referred to this as a "major incident." Today, the Federal Aviation Administration has decided to ground all 787s in the US--that'd be six of them, all operated by United.
Self-piloted drones may be able to land or fly almost anywhere -- even aircraft carriers -- but they need some complex navigation skills to do it, including the somewhat existential ability to know where they are in the world. But this is difficult without some type of onboard relative positioning system.
There was an unusual visitor at the Oshkosh airshow this year: a roadable aircraft manufactured by PlaneDriven. The PD2 takes a Glasair Sportsman amateur-built airplane and adds a separate 50-hp “drive unit” to the rear of the craft to provide ground power. To put the vehicle into drive mode, the pilot folds the wings, starts the drive unit, and away we go.
The Synergy aircraft, propelled by a fan in back and buoyed by a boxy tail, promises to be cheaper, safer, quieter, and vastly more efficient than a jet airplane. The hitch is that it doesn't quite exist yet, but it's nearly halfway to its goal on Kickstarter, so now is your chance to invest.
Remote-control jets have never performed particularly well. Their engines are less efficient than exposed propellers at an R/C plane’s speed, which makes the toys sluggish and difficult to steer, leading to crashes. To compensate for the lack of power, engineers at toy manufacturer Great Planes reduced the weight of their F-86 craft to 2.35 ounces—30 percent lighter than any comparably sized R/C jet. With less mass to maneuver, the F-86 flies faster, turns quicker, and allows pilots to do loops and rolls.
There are lots of way to learn first-hand the principles of flight, but most of them require years of studying or a pilot’s license. There is, however, an exception: folding paper airplanes. Da Vinci did it, as did the Wright Brothers and Jack Northrop, and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.