Ionic Wind Generator Powers Sustained Flight—with No Moving Parts!

The team flew the plane a distance of 60 meters in a large, sweeping arc in 10 trials at MIT's duPont Athletic Center. "This is the first-ever sustained flight of a plane with no moving parts in the propulsion system," said Steven Barrett, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. "This has potentially opened new and unexplored possibilities for aircraft which are quieter, mechanically simpler, and do not emit combustion emissions."

"It took a long time to get here," Barrett says. "Going from the basic principle to something that actually flies was a long journey of characterizing the physics, then coming up with the design and making it work. Now the possibilities for this kind of propulsion system are viable."  The flight required an incredible 40,000 volts of electricity—enough to strip electrons from nitrogen atoms in the ambient atmosphere.  Images courtesy of MIT news video.

For additional details on the physics of these groundbreaking flight tests, please visit:

MIT News,

Nature, International journal of science, Haofeng Xu et al. Flight of an aeroplane with solid-state propulsion, Nature(2018).