The Ice Plane Cometh

South Korea’s extreme-weather aircraft-testing facility opens

The South Korean air force showcased its new aircraft testing and evaluation center on opening day, September 8, by coating this F-4 Phantom fighter jet with ice. In the facility, engineers simulate conditions that a plane might encounter at 40,000 feet to determine if the craft’s composite structure—particularly in its wings—can endure the freezing temperatures without cracking. The test center is the second-largest of its kind in the world. (The largest is McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.)

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Explaining the US Airways Crash

The PopSci team in New York are on the scene

Today US Airways flight 1549 made an unexpected stop: the Hudson River. After a troubled take off around 3:30PM, the Airbus A320 descended into the river on the west side of Manhattan. Local ferry operators immediately began to throw life vests into the water and pick up passengers, with the Coast Guard Cutter Ridley and NYPD arriving shortly there after. All 148 passengers, as well as the 5 crew members, are all alive and accounted for. An FAA report said that a flock of geese likely caused the crash.

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Has There Been A Flood Of Discount Flights?

Feel like escaping Australia for a while? This could be the time...

Story from Lifehacker Australia

Conventional wisdom holds that in times of economic distress, it should be easier than ever to get discounted airfares. However, while there are some good deals to be had, the fundamental strategies for getting cheap flights remain the same as ever.

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A Silent Electric Plane

An electric plane that cruises silently at 70 mph and costs just 70 cents to charge

Happy Landings : The builder says his goal was a noiseless plane that would fly as smoothly as a magic carpet.  John B. Carnett
In August, at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Randall Fishman’s ElectraFlyer-C made a virtually silent pass over the audience at a mere 200 feet. What they were seeing (but not hearing) might be the world’s first fully electric-powered airplane—representing, said one EAA official, “a groundbreaking technology that would be aviation’s first true alternative to a fossil-fuel engine.”

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The Flying Car Gets Real

The team at Terrafugia is about to fulfill the fantasy of every driver pilot: a consumer vehicle that can take to the highways and the skies. All they have to do is finish the first one

Road-Ready: In Terrafugia’s Transition driving airplane, the canard wing doubles as the front bumper.  John B. Carnett
The Transition is not a flying car. The vehicle, set to go on sale next year, will cruise smoothly on the road and through the sky. It will have four wheels, Formula One–style suspension, and a pair of 10-foot-wide wings that fold up when it switches from air to asphalt. And when the engineers at Terrafugia in Woburn, Massachusetts, let me sit inside their just-finished proof-of-concept vehicle and grab the steering wheel, it’s easy to imagine piloting this thing up and out of traffic, into the open skies.

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Why Your Flight Got Canceled

No, it’s not because the airline hates you

Last year, U.S. airlines canceled 21,000 flights. Or rather, a small cadre of guys canceled 21,000 flights. Every gate agent reports up the ladder at a given airline to a set of command-center managers. We spoke with a few of the people who make the big decisions to learn what factors influence whether they cancel a flight.

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Prius in the Sky

A new competition aims to inspire the 100mpg personal plane

Imagine a '57 Chevy cruising through the air, and you get an idea of what single-engine, propeller-driven airplanes do to the environment. The average private plane, such as the popular two-seat Cessna 172, is 30 years old. It carries a four-cylinder piston engine designed in the 1940s that burns leaded gasoline, has no catalytic converter, and gets as little as 12 miles per gallon. “It’s fair to say that small aircraft are gross polluters,” says Mark Moore, an engineer who has led personal-aircraft projects for NASA.

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Darpa's New Goal: A Plane That Flies for Five Years

The agency is set to announce contracts for the program soon.

The highest-endurance aircraft currently flying is Northrop Grummans Global Hawk UAV, which can stay aloft for up to 40 hours. Now Darpa—which, to its credit, is never short on outlandish ideas—wants to beat that endurance record more than 1,000 times. The goal of Darpa's recently launched Vulture Program is to build a kind of atmospheric satellite that can stay aloft for five years at a time with little or no maintenance.

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SPECIAL REPORTTechnology vs. Terrorism

Toxin sniffers, missile jammers, dirty-bomb detectors: Will a new security arsenal make us safer?

The future of secure travel hinges on seamless, instant communication-and 24/7 autonomous surveillance. For a look at the technologies that will soon safeguard your travel plans, launch the photo gallery.

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The Supersonic Shape-Shifting Bomber

With a shift of its wing, the Pentagon's next attack drone goes from long-range endurance flyer to Mach-speed assassin

For years, the U.S. military has wanted a plane that could loiter just outside enemy territory for more than a dozen hours and, on command, hurtle toward a target faster than the speed of sound. And then level it. But aircraft that excel at subsonic flight are inefficient at Mach speeds, and vice versa. The answer is Switchblade, an unmanned, shape-changing plane concept under development by Northrop Grumman.

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