Less than two months ago I wrote about the first flight of the Belite Skydock. It's a spindly little airplane, but made with modern technology and materials. It promises fun, affordable aviation. Now, in just two months, they've gone from first flight of their design to first flight using a pair of electric motors.
A Pipistrel aircraft recently completed its first flight at the Stuttgart airport. Why is this cool? It's the world's first 4-seat aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The aircraft is part of the HY4 Project that aims to build a fleet of these aircraft and start a network of clean, efficient air taxis.
Just over a month ago, Jeff Bezos' space tourism company, Blue Origin, successfully landed the booster stage of a rocket after launch. This was a major step toward making space travel more affordable. Elon Musk's company SpaceX has just taken that advancement a step further by landing the booster stage of a Falcon 9 rocket after launching a payload into orbit.
I almost can't believe that I first wrote about the Mitsubishi MRJ more than 7 years ago. Mitsubishi has a new website for the project and it looks like their jet is almost ready for its first flight. (7 years later!) It seems like a pretty impressive aircraft. It's geared turbofan engines save money, burn less fuel and make less noise than competitors. It's a Cat IIIa airplane and has the latest Collins avionics. I'm excited to see this clean-sheet design about to hit the market.
It's been a fun year for for projects seeking to advnace aviation.
Solar Impulse 2, the all-solar aircraft flying around the world is staying the winter in Hawaii. It was a lot of fun reading about the aircraft's progress. Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard wrote a short note about his trip home from Hawaii in July. I can feel his disappointment, but I have no doubt he'll return to the sky with great success.
According to the EAA and others, Flight Design, the market leader among Light Sport Aircraft, just announced plans to build a 4-place aircraft. This in an impressive move on many levels and I'm excited to see what they come up with.
When I think airline engines only two names come to mind: Pratt & Whitney and General Electric. Although they have a huge military market, P&W has been suffering in the commercial airline market in recent years. According to the Wall Street Journal, P&W's new PurePower PW1000G geared turbofan engine may be what it takes for them to break back into this market.
Tired of paying for avgas? Me too. The Solar Impulse project is trying to showcase and encourage the technology that will eventually help us abandon avgas. The project has great support and they've been very open about their progress. The Solar Impulse aircraft made it's first full flight on April 7th. Everything went well and it was in the air for over 90 minutes.