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A STOL jetliner – NASA’s answer to congested runways

NASA has sent me a two-CD set (how seasonal!) on its revitalised Fundamental Aeronautics programme. One is the presentations from the programme’s recent annual meeting (saved for later posts). The other is a 12-minute movie produced by the programme and entitled “Today’s Research…Tomorrow’s Flight“. I have shamelessy ripped some clips from the DVD to show […]

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DARPA’s Falcon – the other prompt global striker

The internet has been abuzz with stories about a new US space weapons programme, all based on an erroneous report in the Washington Post about one of my favourite DARPA projects – the Falcon hypersonic cruise vehicle technology demonstrator. Falcon has been around for yonks, but the Post managed to mangle the wording of the […]

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DuPont’s V/STOL makes the headlines again

Just when you thought you’d heard the last of duPont Aerospace’s DP-2 V/STOL transport project, after US Congress finally cut off its funding, a new controversy has erupted over NASA’s decision to let the company keep the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW535A engines powering the prototype. DuPont argues the engines were purchased with a NASA […]

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Dumbo can fly – Skunk Works airship stars in video

Thanks to Sentinel Chicken over on secretprojects.co.uk for posting this video of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ P-791 hybrid airship. The late Mike Dornheim of Aviation Week broke the story about the Skunk Works flight testing the P-791 in February 2006. As Sentinel Chicken points out, whoever posted the video on break.com did not know what […]

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One from the history books – the cyclogyro

It must be all this talk of reviving old ideas, but Robot World News is running a story about a new look at an old idea – too old for even me to remember – the cyclogyro. The what? The cyclogyro is a sort of flying paddle steamer – lift and thrust is provided by […]

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DARPA’s high-speed Heliplane hits a hurdle

The Salt Lake Tribune has just run a profile of local gyroplane developer Groen Brothers Aviation. It contains a brief reference to “design issues” uncovered in September during the preliminary design review for the Heliplane high-speed rotorcraft demonstrator GBA is designing for DARPA. So I contacted DARPA, which said: “We underestimated the difficulty in achieving […]

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Piasecki’s X-49A sets the pace

Perseverance pays off, and Piasecki Aircraft appears to be having some success with its X-49A “Speedhawk” – a Sikorsky H-60 modified with Piasecki’s vectored-thrust ducted propeller (VTDP). The attached video shows the helicopter has exceeded 170kt in flight testing. The X-49A is flying at Boeing’s test centre in Delaware, and Dave Harvey on rotorhub.com, says […]

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Discopter – what goes around comes around

Steve Trimble over on The DEW Line reveals Boeing has a DARPA contract to study a disk rotor high-speed rotorcraft. Like most things in aerospace these days, this is not a new idea. Swiss architect and designer George Vranek, on his diskrotor website, traces the concept of a circular rotor with retractable blades back to […]

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AFRL’s Speed Agile sets USAF airlift agenda

On the subject of carting 30t of armoured fighting vehicle around the battlefield, the US Air Force’s approach to airlifting the Army’s weight-challenged FCS vehicles has become clearer with release of details of the planned Speed Agile concept demonstration. The cool name reflects the Air Force’s desire for “speed agility”: high lift at low speeds […]

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Tilt and fold – high-speed rotorcraft concept dusted off

Sources tell me DARPA is about to award Bell Boeing a small contract to study a stop-fold tiltrotor. Or restart studies, I should say, as both companies have previously looked at tiltrotors that stop and fold their rotors to go faster. In 1972, Bell tested a 25ft-diameter stop-fold rotor in a NASA Ames windtunnel. This […]

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