Engineers Fly First-Ever Plane with No Moving Parts: Silent, Fuel-Free 'Ion Drive'
MIT engineers have designed and flown the first-ever plane with no moving parts. The lightweight aircraft is powered by an "ionic wind" — a strong flow of ions produced aboard the plane generates enough thrust to propel the plane over a sustained flight. Unlike turbine-powered planes, the aircraft does not depend on fossil fuels to fly; and unlike propeller-driven drones, the design is silent. In a paper published in Nature , the MIT team describes how they created the "electroaerodynamic-powered plane" — one that uses solid-state propulsion (no propellers, or engines with expendable fuel). The team says the new "ion drive" technology could power silent drones.