NASA this week awarded four research groups a total of $16.5 million to continue their development of quieter, more fuel efficient, and ultimately safer and better airliner technology. But while we've seen earlier versions Boeing's "Ultra Green" aircraft mock-ups and MIT's "double-bubble" concept, an interesting new technology being funded over at Cessna: a self-healing "magic skin" that would protect the exterior of an aircraft from lightning, impact damage, extreme temperatures, and even electromagnetic interference (EMI).
The idea behind this is apparently a leftover from a GE/Cessna report on N+3 (aerospace jargon for "three generations beyond the current fleet") aircraft technology completed a year ago. Called "smoothing, thermal, absorbing, reflective, conductive, cosmetic" (STAR-C2), the idea calls for a thin outer skin made form a conductive film and an energy absorbing foam that would coat the whole of each aircraft.
The GE/Cessna team figured that such a skin could cut the weight of existing environmental countermeasures by half. It would also be specially designed to show visible damage plainly, so impact damage to the aircraft is plainly visible to inspectors on the ground. And while the self-healing mechanism hasn't exactly been explained in plain language yet, the skin is expected to be able to heal itself if punctured or torn.
As a bonus, it would also cut down on cabin noise created by the engines. But don't look for this new magic skin to be enveloping your next short haul on Southwest. N+3 generation technology isn't expected to takeoff for another 20 to 25 years.
My first thought when looking at the picture: "Does it protect against STDs and other sexually transmitted diseases?"
Otherwise, interesting concept - perhaps this is method will make planes last longer/require less maintenance (not that they don't already fly for decades continuously).
This plane is obviously a Gentile
The seeker of knowledge who seeks to reach beyond the stars to go where no mans gone before to see things no man has seen and bring these experiences back for the whole world to hear and see.
No you both are rong its a jew
"perhaps this...method will make planes last longer"
In addition to protecting against STDs, I'm sure!
And how would an inspector check for metal fatigue, loose rivets etc? Operators will not be happy if this all has to be done from the inside.
Secondly how will the operator add antennas? I see some benefits definitively but it's not ready for prime time yet.
The mandate is worthy of DARPA.