Pyka Bets The Path To The Future Of Passenger Planes Runs Through Banana Plantations In Latin America

Oakland-based Pyka shares a goal common to many high-tech California aviation startups: to build an autonomous electric passenger aircraft. However, its first steps to get there have taken the company far away from the pack, first to New Zealand and now to banana plantations in Costa Rica and Ecuador, where it’s preparing to field a robotic crop-spraying airplane called Pelican that CEO Michael Norcia says will prove out technology he believes will lead the way to an era of green, low-cost passenger planes.

The fat-bellied, 500-pound plane can carry more than its weight in liquid pesticides or fertilizer, and is engineered to take off and land in a ridiculously short space: 150 feet, half the length of

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The Air Force’s Future Tanker Planes Could Be Autonomous

The Air Force is drawing up plans for its next refueling tanker to have autonomous or semi-autonomous capabilities, thanks in part to efforts to fix the KC-46 Pegasus, according to the service’s acquisition czar.

Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, said a required redesign of the KC 46’s Remote Vision System (RVS), which permits the in-flight operator to view the refueling system below the tanker, is bringing the tanker to the brink of autonomous refueling with its latest suite of sensors and in-flight tracking.

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“The KC-46 is going to take us all the way up to the doorstep of semi-autonomous and autonomous tanking,” Roper said Wednesday during a phone call with reporters. “And the Air Force has committed to put in those algorithms because, when you

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Airbus looks to the future with hydrogen planes

Aerospace giant Airbus has unveiled plans for what it hailed as the first commercial zero-emission aircraft.

It said its hydrogen-fuelled passenger planes could be in service by 2035.

Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said the three ZEROe concept designs marked “a historic moment” for commercial aviation sector”.

The use of hydrogen had “the potential to significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact”, he added.

However, analysts point out that it is not the first time that hydrogen has been touted as the saviour of modern aviation.

The history of the fuel goes back to the days of airships in the early 20th Century, but the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 brought that era to an end.

More recently, from 2000 to 2002, Airbus was involved in the EU-funded Cryoplane project, which studied the feasibility of a liquid hydrogen-fuelled aircraft.

After that, the idea fell out of favour again – until now.

‘Decisive action’

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