New Plane Don’t Need Moving Parts and Engine to Fly!
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineers said that they have successfully flown the first "solid state" airplane which doesn’t require moving parts and fossil fuels to fly.
Engineers also explained that the flight is a milestone in "ionic wind" technology and could pave a path for cleaner environment in future.Steven Barrett, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT said that this is the first-ever sustained flight of a plane with no moving parts in the propulsion system.
This has potentially opened new possibilities for aircraft which are quieter, mechanically simpler, and do not emit combustion emissions, he added.
About 115 years ago, the Wright brothers made history by launching the first man-made flight. After that, most aircraft have depended on moving parts such as propellers or turbines to power them through the air.
To make the flight, n onboard battery pack in the fuselage supplied 20,000 volts of electricity to an array of wires attached to the width of the plane underneath the wing.
The electric field created a flow of nitrogen ions from the wires to rods at the back of the plane that was powerful enough to generate necessary thrust for a sustained flight.
Barrett,the lead author of the project, said the idea for the ion plane came from the TV series "Star Trek". When he was a kid, Barret was inspired by the shuttles that glided through the air silently without any moving parts.
The team designed a lightweight plane that weighs about five pounds with a five-meter wingspan. The team successfully flew the plane a distance of 60 meters, a feat that was repeated 10 times, after testing it inside the gym.
The MIT team wants to develop their ion plane so that it can fly longer with less voltage. To say simply, the design could have applications in making smaller aircraft, such as drones, less noisy.
Barrett told that it was the simplest possible plane they could design that proves an ion plane can fly. It is still some way far from an aircraft that performs a useful mission, as it needs to be more efficient, fly longer, and outside, he added.