Engineers at MIT fly first plane with no moving parts

The team managed to sustain flight for 60 meters, making it the first flight with an aircraft with no moving parts.


NSFW    CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS — Engineers at MIT have managed to fly an airplane with no moving parts.

The aircraft was designed to resemble a glider, it weighs roughly two kilograms and has a 5-meter wingspan. The plane has two rows of wires under its wing. The row at the front end of the wing carries 20,000 volts of positively charged particles called ions.

The ions are then attracted to the row on the back end of the wing which carries a negative charge of 20,000 volts. As the ions move to the back row they collide with neutral air pushing it behind the glider and generating electroaerodynamic thrust, driving the aircraft forward. This air is called ionic wind.

According to their study, published in the journal Nature, the team tested the glider inside a gym where it managed to sustain flight and travel 60 meters, making it the first solid state flight — or flight without moving parts like turbines and propellers.

Engineers participating in the study hope this technology can be the first step towards designing aircrafts that are quieter and do not emit combustion emissions.

Engineer Steven Barret says the team was inspired by the futuristic space crafts from Star Trek. Let's hope the technology they've developed lives long and prospers.
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