Future planes to get a 'magic safety skin'

Apr 08, 2011 by Katie Gatto weblog
Future planes to get a magic safety skin
Image: GE/Cessna

(PhysOrg.com) -- Despite the popular perceptions of plane travel, it is a relatively safe way to travel, and the folks over NASA are hoping to make it even safer. They have awarded four different research teams a total of $16.5 million to work on safer and more fuel efficient planes. They may even be quieter than the standard planes.

One of the most interesting projects in the works is being done on a Cessna. The Cessna in question would have a self-healing skin, which will allow the plane to protect itself from lightning, , impact, and electromagnetic damage. No real detail on the skins self healing has been given at this time.

The skin, which some have already begun to dub a "magic skin", is going to be applied by a team from GE and Cessna. The idea came from an N+3 report, which is supposed to look three generations beyond the current planes in the air. In the report, the skin is made of a conductive film, paired with an energy absorbing foam, which would coat the whole of the aircraft.

If these new skins come to the current generation of planes, they could potentially reduce the weight of the existing environmental countermeasures by half, which would make the plane a lot greener than it is now. Considering that the plane is one of the most polluting ways to travel on the planet, this would be a significant improvement. The will actually visually show damage to help inspectors do their jobs better.

This technology is not expected to be on for another 20 to 25 years. So, do not hold you breath for one of these planes.

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User comments : 11

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3.7 / 5 (6) Apr 08, 2011
Good grief...

Did that illustration REALLY have to look like a condom being put on?
2 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2011
Good grief...

Did that illustration REALLY have to look like a condom being put on?

This might your imagination. I don't see it.
1.3 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2011
an energy absorbing foam, which would coat the whole of the aircraft.
Will this offer protection against terrorist beam weapons I wonder?
4 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2011
This might your imagination.
Maybe it was the title of the article that somehow subconsciously primed my imagination...
3 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2011
How will maintenance be performed? They disassemble most of the plane for a HMV (Heavy Maintenance Visit, every 4-5 years.).
not rated yet Apr 08, 2011
Can we have less of the tabloid journalistic cliches like "the folks over NASA". I though Physorg was a science site .
5 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2011
Good grief...

Did that illustration REALLY have to look like a condom being put on?

747 = Magnum?
5 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2011
Why, do you have a windscreen on your cockpit?
not rated yet Apr 09, 2011
"Energy absorbing foam"?
Let's hope they remember to also make that foam non-toxic in the case of fires...
not rated yet Apr 11, 2011
I call b/s. Magic doesn't exist and neither does this skin product. Even if it did it would add to much weight and or drag to be useful.
not rated yet Apr 11, 2011
Now the Air Marshall will be able to discharge his firearm without taking down the aircraft.