Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pentagon Clears Flying Car Project for Take-Off external link

Pentagon mad-science division Darpa is helping build thought-controlled robotic limbs, artificial pack mules, real-life laser guns and "kill-proof" soldiers. So it comes as no surprise, really, that the agency is now getting into the flying-car business, too.
Darpa hopes its "Personal Air Vehicle Technology" project, announced yesterday, will ultimately lead to a working prototype of a military-suitable flying car — a two- or four-passenger vehicle that can "drive on roads" one minute and take off like a helicopter the next. The hybrid machine would be perfect for "urban scouting," casualty evacuation and commando-delivery missions, the agency believes. [original]

Father of the flying car

In 1917, Glenn Curtiss,made the first attempt to make a flying car. An aluminum Autoplane fitted with three wings that spanned about 40 feet (12.2 meters). The vehicle's motor drove a four-bladed propeller at the back of the car. The Curtiss Autoplane never truly flew, but it did manage a few short hops.

An Autoplane had woth its official unveiling at the Pan-American Aeronautical Exposition held in New York City's Grand Central Palace in February of 1917.Named at the time as an "aerial limousine," the strange little vehicle looked like the front half of a Model T Ford outfitted with Red Baron wings and pushed by a huge 9-foot four-blade pusher propeller mounted where the back seat should have been. The gigantic and clumsy triplane wings were fashioned into a single unit coupled with the empennage, and were meant to be removed as a single unit for road travel.

This lone Autoplane, the one and only version ever made by Glenn Curtiss, was rushed to completion specifically for the New York exposition by using tri-wings identical to those on the Curtiss Model L triplane, as well as a standard Curtiss OXX 100 hp engine. The Autoplane skipped and jumped and hopped low off the ground a few times in 1917, but never actually took to the air. Still, the invention was sufficient to earn for Glenn Curtiss the unofficial title of the "Father of the Flying Car."READ more from original

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: Guinness Recognizes NASA Scramjet

NASA has been officially recognized for setting the speed record for a jet-powered aircraft by Guinness World Records.

NASA set the record ,during the third and final flight of the experimental X-43A scramjet (supersonic-combustion ramjet) project. The X-43A demonstrated an advanced form of air-breathing jet engine could power an aircraft nearly 10 times the speed of sound. Data from the unpiloted, 12-foot-long research vehicle show its revolutionary engine worked successfully at Mach 9.6 (approximately 7,000 mph), as it flew over the Pacific Ocean west of California.

The flight was the culmination of NASA's Hyper-X Program. Hyper-X, a seven-year, approximately $230 million ground and flight test program, explored alternatives to rocket power for space access vehicles.

This is the second world speed record earned by the Hyper-X Program. The first followed a Mach 6.8 (approximately 5,000 mph) flight in March 2004. Both records will be featured in the 2006 edition of the Guinness World Records book published in September 2005. The fastest air-breathing, manned vehicle, the SR-71, achieved slightly more than Mach 3.2. The X-43A more than tripled the top speed of the jet-powered SR-71.

NASA is interested in supersonic combustion scramjet technology, because the engines get their oxygen from the atmosphere. That allows for more airplane-like operations for increased affordability, flexibility and safety in ultra-high-speed flights and for the first stage to Earth orbit. Once a scramjet-powered vehicle is accelerated to approximately Mach 4 by a conventional jet engine or booster rocket, it can fly at hypersonic speeds, possibly as fast as Mach 15, without carrying heavy oxidizer, as rockets must.

A ramjet operates by subsonic combustion of fuel in a stream of air compressed by the forward speed of the aircraft. In a regular jet engine, fan blades compress the air. In a scramjet, the airflow through the whole engine remains supersonic.

The Guinness World Record certificate:

"On 16 November, 2004, NASA's unmanned Hyper-X (X-43A) aircraft reached Mach 9.6. The X-43A was boosted to an altitude of 33,223 meters (109,000 feet) by a Pegasus rocket launched from beneath a B52-B jet aircraft. The revolutionary 'scramjet' aircraft then burned its engine for around 10 seconds during its flight over the Pacific Ocean."

Related flight records:

The previous record for an air-breathing vehicle, but not an airplane, was held by a ramjet-powered missile, which achieved slightly more than Mach 5. The highest speed attained by a rocket-powered airplane, NASA's X-15, was Mach 6.7.

The Hyper-X program was conducted by NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate with the agency's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. Langley was lead NASA center with responsibility for hypersonic technology development. The NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., is responsible for flight research and testing.

For information about NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate programs, including Hyper-X, on the Internet, visit:

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Internet, visit:

India to buy Hercules from US Air Force

Indian Air Defence is planning to purchase a C-130J, otherwise called Hercules.This Lockheed Martin C-130 is manufactured by US air force.Typically used for tactical cargo and military personnel transport.The latest model of this is called C-130J Hercules with a glass cockpit with digital avionics integrated with new propulsion system having six bladed propeller. Hercules is basically a four-engine turboprop aircraft and have 40 different variant successfully used in 67 odd nations worldwide.C-130 has been used since 1954 and almost 2500 Hercules are built worldwide.

The new C-130J have enhanced range,cruise ceiling time to climb and speed.Also the 'J' model good performance in hot and high conditions can increase the performance of similar aircraft by 50-70%. The cargo bay of the C-130J has a total usable volume of over 4,500ft. The C-130J is equipped with four Allison AE2100D3 turboprop engines, each rated at 4,591 shaft horsepower (3,425kW). The all-composite six-blade R391 propeller system was developed by Dowty Aerospace.

Air Chief S.P. Tyagi quoted, saying that "the IAF is planning to buy C-130J planes" and reports suggest main reason for choosing HERCULES is the capability of short takeoffs and landings from unprepared runways and without lights.C-130 which was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation and cargo transport aircraft. The versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of other roles, including as a gunship, and for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refueling and aerial firefighting.

Initially about 10-15 aircraft is discussed,which would take over the special forces role and supplement India's current fleet of 100 or so medium lift twin-turboprop AN-32 "Sutlej" aircraft. No word on whether the Hercs in question would be C-130Js with minor customizations, or a J variant of the heavily-modified and much more expensive MC-130 "Combat Talon" special forces aircraft. India's emerging Air Force philosophy and terrorism threat profiles would seem to suggest the MC-130 as the best doctrinal fit, while budgetary constraints (the MC-130H lists as $155 million in FY 2001 dollars, and an MC-130J Combat Talon III would cost more) would suggest the C-130J route.

Will India's potential purchase represent a mere stopgap until the $100-120 million A400M begins to hit the market around 2010, and creates a major competition for India's next-generation tactical airlifter? Will a deal be done around an indigenous project instead, something that India often prefers despite the project failures and increased costs common to such projects in its history? Or is a C-130J order a potential door-opener for a much larger Lockheed order, one that can be delivered sooner to a customer who decides that it would rather have more aircraft available, and doesn't need more than 20 tons of lift capacity?

But it is really unpredictable how well this bulky aircraft will suite Indian terrain??

For more details

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Silent Aircraft Initiative

The Silent Aircraft Initiative is a study being undertaken by the Cambridge-MIT Institute to discover ways to reduce aircraft noise dramatically, to the point where it would be virtually unnoticeable to people outside the airport perimeter.

Launched in November 2003, the program has the support of Rolls-Royce, Boeing and Marshall Aerospace.Part of the study is examining if a steeper continuous descent into an airport will reduce approach noise levels.

Theoretical analysis will be backed-up by field trials using real jetliners.A major part of the study is developing jetliner/engine designs that can meet the SAI objectives. The favoured configuration is a blended wing design, with the engines located on the upper surface of the wing, to shield ground observers from the engine noise. A very low specific thrust (i.e. very high bypass ratio) turbofan is proposed for the aircraft.

Engine handling and low jet noise are facilitated by the use of a variable area final nozzle, to rematch the fan. Acoustic treatment in the intake and exhaust ducting minimizes turbomachinery noise. Because the blended wing is too shallow to accommodate twin engines, a four engine configuration is proposed.

Problems that need to be overcome are:

1. Serious lack of pitch stability, because of higly destabilizing protruding nose and lack of horizontal tail. So airfoils are to be reflexed (loss of efficiency), and the wing has to be twisted (washout). High lift devices are prohibited because strong negatives pitching moments cannot be balanced. The claimed advantage "efficient high-lift wings" may be discussed...

2. Difficulty in pitch and yaw control, owing to the lack of a tail

3. Greater strength needed to maintain internal pressure, compared to tube-shaped body

4. Due to the majority of passengers' location far from the roll axis of the aircraft, passengers will be far more affected as a result of a steep turn than they would be in a conventional tube-with-wings airliner, where all the passengers are located immediately next to the roll axis

5. Most of the aircraft's occupants will not be able to see a window for looking outside the aircraft at their immediate disposal; a system of 'false-windows', such as LCD displays at each seat or each group of seats that would simulate the presence of a window through use of an externally mounted camera. Emergency evacuation of a passenger aircraft may also pose a challenge.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Ok, "This is one of the strangest things I've seen on the net today!" you are probably thinking to yourself, but what is it you ask?

It's the "GEN H-4." The world's smallest co-axial helicopter ever made!

This is a Japanese designed and manufactured ultralight one-man helicopter. The total empty weight of this helicopter is only 155 lb.

Yes, you're right it is a quite interesting contraption! It is true that there is not much to see on the outside. The frame is 2 inch aluminum pipe bent and welded, with a fiberglass backpack and funny looking wheels. The controls are direct, like many gyrocopters. In front of the pilot attached to the control bar is the control panel with the throttle (altitude control), tachometer, ignition power, starter and yaw switches. The tools necessary for flight do not seem like much because they aren't. This is not only the lightest helicopter in the world, but it is the easiest to fly!

If you look closely at the power pack (on top of the air craft) you will find four astonishingly small twin cylinder engines feeding into a central transmission with two sets of rotors turning in opposite directions. Wow, you say? That's nuts!.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Nevada-based aviation company is exploring a creative way to utilize gravity as a power source to produce an aircraft concept which might one day take people and cargo great distances without the need for fuel. The project is called the GravityPlane.The idea sprung from the brain of Robert D. Hunt, a theoretical physicist. It uses a cycle of climbing and descending to maintain its lift and forward speed, mimicking the behavior of the bodies of warm and cold air which make up the weather.

For the GravityPlane to become airborne, gas bags inside a pair of rigid, zeppelin-like structures are filled with helium from storage tanks inside the vehicle. Overall weight by releasing the stored air which acts as ballast. Once the craft reaches the altitude where the helium is no longer lighter than the surrounding air– theoretically as high as ten miles up– it is unable to climb any further. Some of the stored compressed air is then expanded into the dirigible areas, decreasing the buoyancy effect of the helium and starting the aircraft's descent phase.As gravity pulls the plane towards the earth, the long wings are moved to the swept-back position to reduce wind drag, and air turbines mounted on the top of the craft capture some of the forward momentum and use it to drive air pumps which can refill the on-board compressed air storage tanks. In this gliding mode, the aircraft achieves aerodynamic lift for a gradual descent at high speeds, and can travel in this configuration for about 400 to 600 miles. At the end of the gliding phase, the wings are redeployed. If the concept ever leaves the drawing board and becomes a prototype, it will be massive. But hypothetically, this design could allow the aircraft to travel practically any distance with no fuel. It would expel no polluting gasses, and it would be virtually silent. It would also have some interesting features for such a large craft, including vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), and the ability to set down on land or at sea. Additionally, its buoyancy would allow it to hover in the air if needed, even in the event of total power loss.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


During the 1950s, much of the world was quivering with anticipation over the exciting prospects of nuclear power. It seemed that there was no energy problem too large or too small for the mighty atom to tackle during the glorious and modern Atomic Age.
It was during this period in 1957 that the Ford Motor Company unveiled the most ambitious project in their history: a concept vehicle which had a sleek futuristic look, emitted no harmful vapors, and offered incredible fuel mileage far beyond that of the most efficient cars ever built. This automobile-of-the-future was called the Ford Nucleon, named for its highly unique design feature… a pint-size atomic fission reactor in the trunk. It was designed to use uranium fission to heat a steam generator, rapidly converting stored water into high-pressure steam which could then be used to drive a set of turbines. One steam turbine would provide the torque to propel the car while another would drive an electrical generator. Steam would then be condensed back into water in a cooling loop, and sent back to the steam generator to be reused. Such a closed system would allow the reactor to produce power as long as fissile material remained.Designers anticipated that a typical Nucleon would travel about 5,000 miles per charge.
It seemed inevitable that the internal combustion engine would fade into obscurity, becoming a quaint relic of a pre-atomic past. But the Nucleon's design hinged on the assumption that smaller nuclear reactors would soon be developed, as well as lighter shielding materials. When those innovations failed to appear, the project was scrapped ; the bulky apparatus and heavy lead shielding didn't allow for a safe and efficient car-sized package.
The Ford Nucleon sans tail finsFord never produced a working prototype, nevertheless the Nucleon remains an icon of the Atomic Age. Their reckless optimism demonstrates that one shouldn't consider a task impossible just because nobody has tried it yet– some ideas need to be debunked on their own merit. With today's looming energy crisis and slow migration to alternative fuel sources, we may not have seen the last of the atomic automobile concept. Perhaps one day fossil fuels will wither under the radioactive glare of the mighty atom, and our highways will hum with the steam turbines of mobile Chernobyls. It could be a real blast.

Advancement in DNA Computing

Strands of DNA used to perform calculations has mastered the game tic-tac-toe. MAYA-II, developed at Columbia University and the University of New Mexico in the US, uses a system of DNA logic gates to calculate its moves for tic-tac-toe.
A DNA logic gate consists of a strand of DNA which binds to another specific input sequence. This binding causes a region of the strand to work as an enzyme, modifying yet another short DNA sequence into an output string.Scientists have already developed DNA computers capable of various similar simple calculations. But the researchers behind MAYA-II say their design should prove particularly useful for exploring ways to identify the genetic markers associated with certain diseases.