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Still Waters

New aircraft rises 'like a balloon'

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Still Waters

Researchers from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) have helped create a revolutionary new type of aircraft.

Phoenix is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to stay in the air indefinitely using a new type of propulsion.

Despite being 15m (50ft) long with a mass of 120kg (19 stone) she rises gracefully into the air.

She looks a little like an airship, except airships don't have wings.

"It's a proper aeroplane," says the UHI's Professor Andrew Rae.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-48013519

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bison

At the proposed operational altitude of 20 kilometers, the horizon is just over 500 kilometers distant. That would mean a capacity to relay radio, television and data signals over a distance  of ~1000 kilometers, centered on the position of the aircraft over the Earth's surface. Far from the equal of geosynchronous satellites, but given the far smaller cost, probably practical. Not much rough weather at that high altitude to cause difficulties. 

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BorizBadinov

I disagree that it is a "proper aeroplane" and would classify it as an airship with stabilizing structures. Wings are the primary lifting source for an aeroplane and this craft uses lighter than air gas to achieve lift. While I can see it using ailerons for turning possibly, I think the wings are more just a handy place for solar cells than really efficient during gliding. I would also question its ability to push through wind conditions.

Still a cool design, my nit picking is just about the designation. I have been expecting a resurgence of airships for a while now. 

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oldrover
34 minutes ago, BorizBadinov said:

I disagree that it is a "proper aeroplane" and would classify it as an airship with stabilizing structures. Wings are the primary lifting source for an aeroplane and this craft uses lighter than air gas to achieve lift. While I can see it using ailerons for turning possibly, I think the wings are more just a handy place for solar cells than really efficient during gliding. I would also question its ability to push through wind conditions.

Still a cool design, my nit picking is just about the designation. I have been expecting a resurgence of airships for a while now. 

Yes. Have to agree there. 

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bison

The main problem is likely to be air turbulence at take-off, and landing and dealing with same when ascending and descending through  lower altitudes. This is when aerostats are most vulnerable to damage, as they learned during the airship era, early in the 20th century. 

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Ozymandias

Variable buoyancy facilitates it's ascent/descent capability but it's not clear how forward propulsion is affected.

It can hardly be classified as an aeroplane when it lacks sufficient forward velocity to generate lift - it's a balloon. I'd hardly even call it an airship without any forward speed or control surfaces to steer and control it.

I see issues with payload as well.

 

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BorizBadinov
22 minutes ago, Ozymandias said:

Variable buoyancy facilitates it's ascent/descent capability but it's not clear how forward propulsion is affected.

It can hardly be classified as an aeroplane when it lacks sufficient forward velocity to generate lift - it's a balloon. I'd hardly even call it an airship without any forward speed or control surfaces to steer and control it.

I see issues with payload as well.

 

I believe forward motion is achieved by diving and redirecting that velocity. I imagine that is what the wings true use is, to provide a small amount of lift allowing the pilot to pull out of the dive using the airspeed attained for forward motion. That's my guess anyway from the term moving like a porpoise through water. 

I don't know if I buy the idea its an efficient form of propulsion. Seems like you could just propel it with jetted air or electric motors just as easy, but I would like to see it fly just to see.

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