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December 12, 2018

Plane takes flight with no moving parts, makes history

November 23, 2018
Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have built and flown a plane with no moving parts — for the first time ever. (iStockphoto / Getty Images)

Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have built and flown a plane with no moving parts — for the first time ever.

The plane took off without emitting combustion emissions, and using parts like propellers, turbine blades, and fans.




An “ionic wind” — otherwise known as electrodynamic thrust — powered the light aircraft.

“This is the first-ever sustained flight of a plane with no moving parts in the propulsion system,” Steven Barrett, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, said in a statement released Wednesday.

“This has potentially opened new and unexplored possibilities for aircraft which are quieter, mechanically simpler, and do not emit combustion emissions.”

Electrodynamic thrust, originally identified in the 1920s, is a wind created as current passes between a thin and thick electrode, an MIT press release explained.

With enough voltage, it can propel a small plane.

With a 16-foot wingspan, the conventional-looking aircraft flew about 10 seconds long on it’s first flight.

“In the long-term future, planes shouldn’t have propellers and turbines,” Barrett says. “They should be more like the shuttles in ‘Star Trek,’ that have just a blue glow and silently glide.”

The technology could help power silent drones in the future, the researchers explained.

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