Aircraft Propulsion

The dark side of green

By Keith Button

June 1, 2023

Researchers are beginning to weigh the environmental trade-offs associated with decarbonizing air travel by switching to hydrogen combustion, hydrogen fuel cells and lithium batteries. Keith Button tells the story.

Battery breakthrough

By Keith Button

March 1, 2023

Lithium-air batteries have intrigued futurists with their promise of storing vastly more electricity than today’s lithium-ion versions. But they have always suffered from an Achilles’ heel: They couldn't be charged and discharged over and over again, as required for commercial applications, including air travel. Keith Button spoke to researchers who have made a breakthrough in that part of the lithium-air equation.

Hydrogen: coming to an aircraft near you

By Karen Kwon

July 1, 2022

Hydrogen-powered aircraft could prove to be the best way for the air travel industry to meet its bold commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. For that to happen, hydrogen must be stored safely on these next-generation aircraft, and the question is the best way to do it. Karen Kwon tells the story.

Engage the (almost) silent drive

By Paul Marks

February 1, 2022

First-generation electric delivery drones and passenger air taxis could be too noisy for many communities, so researchers are attempting to engineer electric thrusters of unprecedented quietness. Paul Marks delves into their chances of success.

Start your motors

By Cat Hofacker

January 1, 2022

Nicholas Borer has one New Year’s resolution: get NASA’s X-57 flying

Re-engining a legend

By Jan Tegler

January 31, 2019

The U.S. Air Force’s strategy for ensuring the nuclear deterrence and conventional firepower of its bomber forces through the 2050s and beyond will require installing commercial jet engines onto its B-52s. Jan Tegler spoke to the Air Force and industry managers who must pull off this re-engining on time and on budget.

High gear

By Keith Button

September 27, 2018

Early troubles with Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan jet engines have not slowed the aviation industry’s growing enthusiasm for this fuel-saving technology.

Containing a blade-out

By Keith Button

July 1, 2018

NASA has long been working with the FAA and the aviation industry to improve technologies for containing broken fan blades and preventing damage like that which killed a Southwest Airlines passenger. Keith Button looks at a research project that could help prevent future tragedies.

Solving engine icing

By Keith Button

August 31, 2017

One hurdle has been the inability to accurately model partially melted ice crystals

Game changer

May 31, 2017

DARPA’s plans for a demonstrator UAS for the Navy

Always fascinated by engineering

By Debra Werner

February 7, 2017

Nadia Zerelli, 33, Senior Manager, Heat Transfer and Secondary Air System Methods, Computational Fluid Dynamics and Coupling at MTU Aero Engines