One of the biggest issues in bringing forward new designs is the length of time that it takes to agree to a new specification, research and evaluate the alternative features and configurations, and then embark on a development program that will take the design to flight testing and ultimately operational service.
Fuel efficiency—and the economic and ecological benefits associated with it—continues to be the white rabbit of the global aviation industry. While engine builders look toward composites and electrification, and airframe designers toward lightweighting and aerodynamics, engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center recently completed testing of a novel concept: the boundary layer ingesting propulsor.
While unmanned systems are already transforming the way that modern warfighting is conducted, the commercial sector is still at the starting gate. That said, personal UAV ownership is expanding at an exponential rate, as small, stable, UAVs enter the market.
Colorado-based Boom Technology’s “Baby Boom” XB-1 supersonic demonstrator—a one-third scale stepping stone to a supersonic 40-seat passenger airliner—will make its first test flight late-2017. Although currently under construction, the XB-1 is described as “the first independently developed supersonic jet and history’s fastest civil aircraft.”
The LM-100J will be the civil-certified version of the C-130J and an updated version of the L-100 (or L-382) cargo aircraft, and will be “the only commercial airlifter that offers all-terrain and all-weather service.”
As Lockheed Martin Aeronautics ramps up production of its fifth-generation F-35 fighter program, it is also looking to improve manufacturing efficiency. This month, the company has licensed Ubisense SmartSpace for deployment at its Fort Worth, TX facility.
Lighter than traditional metallic wiring, with much higher bandwidths, fiber optic cables are integrated throughout an aircraft in systems that include taxi aid cameras, head-up displays, in-flight entertainment, cockpit systems, and other key components.
Rolls-Royce will designate Purdue as a University Technology Partnership, which will initially encompass two research centers in the areas of advanced thermal management systems and advanced compressor systems.
Aerion and Skunk Works are already collaborating on the engineering of the AS2, while GE will be adapting one of its proven cores with a new low-pressure turbine to be fuel efficient at both subsonic and supersonic flight.