Air is a drag. The very fluid that makes flight possible also pulls against airplanes, creating friction and resistance as they fly through the sky. With a buzz and a light blue electric glow, researchers are experimenting with plasma as a tool to manipulate air around airplane wings, reducing drag and saving on cost. Plus, the airplane wings would glow electric blue, which honestly feel like reason enough
Tiny scratches on a wind turbine or an airplane wing can go unnoticed, but they can cause serious problems if they are left untreated. Now, a group of researchers in the United Kingdom have invented a substance that can be incorporated into airplane wings that allows them to heal themselves, scabbing over small breaks like blood in a wound.
Airplane wings are rigid structures. They're great for wide open skies, but one bad collision with a wall or a tree branch and suddenly the flying machine has trouble staying airborne. Helicopter rotors also fare poorly when colliding with structures. But a new bio-inspired wing gives bat-like flexibility to mechanical wings, so they can bounce back after a collision.
For over a century, airplane wings have used flaps to alter their shape for better flight performance: extending to generate more climb during takeoff, tilting to stall and generate more breaking power during landings, and staying neutral during normal flight. Yet flaps, as discrete parts, are imperfect, letting air through gaps or catching more air than necessary during flight, and leading to inefficiencies, which in turn lead to higher fuel costs.