Coolest emerging aviation technology?

Yeti

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I'm in the process of surveying different topics for a paper/presentation I'd like to do on one of the more interesting and new, or emerging, technologies in commercial aviation.

As I brainstorm, I'm looking for suggestions. What are some of the latest inventions that you all find particularly fascinating or potentially very useful?

Thanks for your time and any ideas you may have.

-Yeti
 

InHot

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Potentially very useful aviation invention?

Well, that would have to be my unemployment benefits!

Fascinating!




Sorry, couldn't resist. Hopefully someone will have a useful answer for you.
 

Draginass

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There was some Brit company that was developing a diesel engine for light aircraft that would be lighter and less expensive. Present day gas aviation engine design has evolved little in many many years. They're expensive to run and maintain. A new engine would be of great value to GA.
 

avbug

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Perhaps the single most significant evoloution in technology is the advent of GPS. It's not entirely new today (though it's still pretty darn neat), but it's rapidly evolving and it's use is constantly expanding. There are some fantastic developments on the near horizon with respect to avionics.

Personally, the advances that please me the most are the ones I see in the experimental field. General Aviation was on the ropes and nearly dead, with no more production of significance, waning interest, and a falling away. The introduction of new certificated airplanes was a massive shot in the arm; airplanes that were formerly kit airplanes in the experimental category. The introduction of a new generation of training airplanes at the grassroots level is ushering in a whole new generation of pilots.

Composites, period. Cutting edge 40 years ago, and still cutting edge today. Still rapidly evolving. Mindboggling potential.

The F-117 (okay, it's not new, but how the hell does it fly?). Still can't get used to looking at one, and will probably never get tired of the same.

Quieting technology. This is crucial to the future of aviation as urban sprawl increases, regulation grows faster than a rainforest, and entire breeds of airplanes are threatened with extinction unless they can be made quieter.

New engine technology. LASAR and other ignition advances in piston engines, GAMI injectors, and a renewed interest in tuned exhausts. Higher bypass engines that use less fuel, produce more thrust, fly higher, and are quieter, for turbofans. The Williams engine.

Lots of new and exciting stuff out there. Take your pick.
 

Tim47SIP

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NASA's Hypersoar with scram jet technology, the new research for electric motored aircraft powered by fuel cells, NASA's miniature technology research, a program to help get to Mars based on weight, i.e the smaller the item is, the less it ways, and the more items you can carry to get the job done. By far though, I think that NASA and boeings new scramjet technology is by far the leading edge as it will enable speeds of 6-7 mach. The hypersoar can use this engine (with no actual combustion chamber) to skip off of the earths atmospher and go from NY to Japan in less than 2 hours. Other areas are fly by wire, duckted thrust technology (FY22), and new engine compressor material that can withstand much greater heat than the normal turbine engine, i.e. more heat = more power. Just a thought.
 

ShawnC

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Well for me its probally the next GPS system that they are testing right now in Alaska, it has alot of cool options on it. It was in Flying about 2 months ago, I remeber reading it when going to some relatives during X-mas.

The other thing that I look forward to is the JA for GA program using the Diesel engine (Diesiel is basiclly JA fuel), I believe the one that ERAU is working with is a french company. Its a lot quiter than a normal 182, I hope that will help some of the noise abatement problems in the future.

I also like some of the newer kit planes that are coming out.
 

bobbysamd

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Cool technology

Just a thought on the theme for your paper. Powered heavier-than-air flight is nearly 100 years old. Look how far flight has come in a century! From the Wrights and their fabric kite to such aircraft as the JSF.

I've been on the shelf a while, but I'd say the glass cockpit and flight management systems are extremely cool. Maybe going back a few years, but I find it amazing that technology can fly an ILS better than any pilot and then land the airplane. I realize the principles of that technology aren't that hard to understand, but it's still pretty amazing nonetheless.

I also realize that flight simulation technology is relatively ancient and basic, but I still find it amazing that a sim can replicate an airplane's flight characteristics so well that one can earn most if not all of a type rating in the simulator.

I second Avbug on composite technology, though I'd bet some Airbus critics would disagree.
 

1900laker

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Think I heard something about development of a forward looking Infrared Heads Up Display. You would be able to see the runway environment even in 0/0 conditions due to the ever so slight heat difference emmitted by the runway/approach lights. I think this application is already used in a few military aircraft.
 

ILLINI

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In my opinion, EVS (Enhanced Vision System) is a really cool piece of technology. I think this is what you are refering to 1900laker. This technology allows the pilot to see the runway enviornment or even terrain (important when flying into airports near mountains) in 0/0 weather. There is already an IR (infared) EVS that has been installed in the GV, but the newest type of EVS is MMW (Millimeter Wave imaging) which can overcome the limitations of the IR EVS.

Professional Pilot magazine had an article about this technology in their January 2002 issue - Vol 36 No 1.
 

aero99

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shawn quoted:

"The other thing that I look forward to is the JA for GA program using the Diesel engine (Diesiel is basiclly JA fuel), I believe the one that ERAU is working with is a french company. Its a lot quiter than a normal 182, I hope that will help some of the noise abatement problems in the future. "

The company is Aerospatiale/Socata that is playing with the Diesel/JA fuel.

I would agree that composites are really changing aviation. Most companies are still at a wait and see attitude, but in years to come I think all aircraft will use composites.

Forward looking radar, or virtual "highways in the sky" systems are in beta now and would be great in GA and commercial for busy areas and terrain avoidance.

The beta version GPS in Alaska that Shawn mentioned will probably be the biggest advancement in the near future if it actually makes it out of Alaska.
 

Timebuilder

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All of these are great, but the virtual highway is the best tool for situational awareness. This makes instrument flying much like driving on a transparent road, and makes use of our natural desire for visual input. Add other traffic, terrain, weather, and it would be simpler than most of today's advanced video games.
 

FlyinBrian

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I thought I'd also throw out the free flight concept, which would basically make the current airway system obsolete. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it basically involves mating GPS with a transponder system similar to TCAS that would allow pilots to fly direct, or at least off airways and still keep traffic manageable. The potential benefits include increased fuel efficiency, quicker enroute times, more convenience and increased traffic capacity.

The other suggestions about GA airframe and powerplant advances are great as well. I'd look at composites, the diesel engines, and the light-weight jets that are being developed. GA is definitely the portion of the industry that lags behind technologically. A C-172 rolling off the line today is essentially the same as those rolling off the line 30 years ago. Nicer avionics and interior... But same old airframe and powerplant.
 

~~~^~~~

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Best new, new, technology is the paperless cockpit. Your chart and approach plate revisions come on a compact disk and can be read in a tablet computer.

All professional pilots spend several hours a month updating their charts. Every once in a while you find a chart is missing, or you destroy your charts with a spilled Coke.

The CD Jepp revisions will be cheaper, more accurate and best of all, easier.
 

Chunk

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ADS-B and Mode-S combo...

Free flight's acomin'!!

cleared direct....

Chunk
 
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