A New Type of Airplane

When you think of an airplane, you might picture an airplane similar to the one below. However, some individuals from MIT) have developed a new type of airplane which can fly without using any moving components.

Condor (c) Charles Regina 
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How do Most Planes Work?

For most airplanes, they fly using engines which propel the plane forward. The forward motion causes different air particles to hit against the aircraft’s wings. The wings themselves are angled in such a way that air on top of the wings flows faster that air below the wings, therefore creating an imbalance of pressure. Many individuals know this phenomenon as Bernoulli’s principle. Since there exists a difference of pressure, a resulting force pushes the plane upwards. Click here for more information oh how normal planes fly.

How is the new plane different?

Unlike most planes, however, the one created by MIT uses ionization which propels atoms in the atmosphere backwards. By creating a voltage difference between a wire in front of the wind and the wing itself, the new plane causes ionized particles to fly from the wire towards the front of the wing. This creates a chain reaction, exciting more nearby particles. Consequently, this forms a sort of ‘wind’ which blows against the wing, creating lift. The final result is a force which pushes the airplane up and sustains its flight.

For its first official test, the unmanned plane flew a total of 60 meters (or 197 feet). Although this appears relatively underwhelming, the plane itself is only the first of its kind and the technology will undoubtedly improve. The real importance of this article is that a sort of ‘solid state propulsion” is possible. Although it is unlikely for planes to adopt this new technology overnight, showing that it works is extremely important. The technology itself can likely prove extremely useful due to its silence, a large difference from the current planes which emit an incredible amount of noise.

For me, this new technology presented proof of something many people thought was impossible. Through showing this concept works, MIT has encouraged other scientists to dig deeper into the idea, ultimately breeding new innovations and concepts, further advancing the field of technology.

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