Humanity has always had a desire to fly, starting with hot air balloons in the 18th century and continuing with airships and planes. However, environmental concerns and fuel shortages have led some manufacturers to consider alternative methods of air travel. The Airbus A380, the largest passenger jet, produces a significant amount of carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution on long flights.
Although traditional air transportation is not yet obsolete, there is a growing interest in more innovative solutions. Some of these ideas, like flying cars and human-carrying drones, seem futuristic, while others, like carbon-neutral propulsion systems, are more practical. Regardless, it is clear that developers are exploring a range of options to address the environmental concerns and fuel shortages associated with current modes of air travel.
Rolls-Royce, a British developer that produces aircraft engines for Airbus, recently conducted a successful test of a hydrogen-powered aircraft engine that was produced using renewable energy sources. Additionally, in September, Eviation Aircraft, an Israeli company, successfully flew the world’s first purely electric-powered aircraft on a demonstration flight that reached an altitude of 1,066 meters.
The company stated that the aircraft has a range of up to 800 kilometers and can stay in the air for more than two hours on a full charge.
Boeing has been contracted by NASA to develop the X-48B, an aircraft that generates lift through its wings and body. An unmanned prototype of this aircraft has already completed its 100th test flight. The Supersonic Green Machine, designed by Lockheed Martin engineers, is intended to be the first supersonic passenger aircraft to operate with reduced emissions, producing 75% fewer emissions than Concorde.
British designer Mac Byers has also created the concept of the Sky Whale, which features intelligent skylights that function as solar panels for green propulsion.
The Horizon System is a proposed aircraft design that aims to reduce fuel consumption by eliminating the need for take-off. The system would involve seating passengers in vehicles similar to a metro train, which would be picked up by the aircraft while still on the ground. This would eliminate the need for landing and re-starting, which are fuel-intensive processes.
The world’s first airport to be a hub for vertical take-off and landing air taxis is due to open in Coventry, England, in spring 2022. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has already started the certification process for such vehicles.
They hope to debut the new technology at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The first of these cars, called Transition, was exhibited at the New York Auto Show and already has a chassis number that allows it to be put on the market.
The most futuristic is Lift Aircraft’s Hexa drone, which can keep its 18 rotors in the air for a quarter of an hour and could not be easier to operate: all you need is a joystick and an iPad. It can’t be flown above 100 metres and, like other drones, is banned over populated areas, but the main problem is probably the price.