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Since Charles Lindbergh landed on this sacred ground, completing the first trans-Atlantic crossing, Le Bourget in Paris, France has been a global incubator for innovation. More than 150 aircraft made their way here last week for the 50th annual Paris Air Show. There were 102 countries represented by dignitaries at the show, $150 billion in contracts signed and 2,215 exhibitors. More than 300,000 visitors walked the grounds at Le Bourget, Europe's busiest business airport, during the week.

Here's a quick recap of five of the most innovative technologies we saw emerge from this year's air show:

1. Going green on the ground

Electric Green Taxiing System

One of the more intriguing demonstrations came from an airplane that never left the ground.

An Airbus 320 ambled down a taxiway at Le Bourget, demonstrating a new electric-powered motor that could help airlines save enormous amounts of time, money and fuel.

The Electric Green Taxiing System was developed by Honeywell and Safran, and allows airplanes to avoid using their jet engines during taxi, when they're most inefficient, and instead rely on battery power. The collaborators say it's similar to the technology that allows a hybrid car to draw electric power at low speeds.

The benefits are two-fold: Airlines can eliminate about 4 percent of fuel costs per flight cycle, which might save them $200,000 per year per aircraft, according to some estimates. Airplanes could also back up under their own power, and would no longer need to wait for a push from ground crews, which often result in flight delays.

EGTS may be introduced to the market in 2016.

2. Russian fighter defies physics

Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet

The United States military was noticeably absent from the show, but the Russians were more than happy to fill the void by introducing more than 100 new developments, according to Business Insider.

Chief among them was the fourth generation of the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet. It's an evolutionary update to the previous generation, built with ultra-maneuverability in mind. This stems largely from its ability to utilize thrust vectoring--changing the direction of engine thrust. Its manufacturer says it can out-maneuver the likes of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II and Dassault's Rafale.

Among its regular tricks above Paris, the Su-35 entered a flat spin and started cartwheeling downward. This would be a regular pilot's worst nightmare, but it's a missile-avoiding maneuver well within the performance limits of this bold military fighter.

3. Best of the new drones

Piaggio HammerHead

Whether they were little micro-drones for hobbyists, a choreographed routine of eight drones all performing simultaneous maneuvers or full-fledged drones for military use, drones owned much of the air show scuttlebutt.

None were more intriguing than the Piaggio HammerHead.

Aviation geeks will recognize the familiar, funky shape of the regular, business-oriented Piaggio with its rear-mounted propellers and canard. Now, it's put to military use. The company said the HammerHead can fly for 16 hours with a 500-pound payload for a range of 4,400 nautical miles, all significant achievements for a drone that's much larger than many currently in use.

Flight tests are scheduled for later this year.

4. Half plane, half helicopter

AgustaWestland Project Zero

James Wang, the vice president of research and technology at Agusta Westland, tells CNN that the Project Zero aircraft was designed to be "as radical as possible." Given that the half-plane, half-helicopter aircraft is designed entirely out of carbon fiber and electrically powered, those radical bases are all covered.

Two rotor blades on the aircraft allow it to depart like a traditional helicopter, climbing in a near-vertical manner. Once it has established at altitude, the rotors tilt forward and allow flight like an airplane.

The company showed a proof of concept at Le Bourget, although it may not start production for a decade.

5. A glimpse into the far future



You've heard of the intermodal container, a standard-sized box that allows for seamless transition of cargo between trains, trucks and ships. From those beginnings, now comes a similar idea for passenger travel.

EPFL unveiled a reduced-scale model "Clip-Air," one of the wildest and far-reaching transportation ideas we've seen in a long time.

Aerodynamically, the concept starts with an aircraft that's essentially a commercial version of the stealth bomber--a flying wing. Intermodal rail cars pick up passengers at a train station. When they arrive at an airport, the entire intermodal car is then clipped onto the bottom of the flying wing. Each aircraft could carry up to three of these intermodal fuselages.

Such a system could help alleviate crowded skies. Airlines would need fewer planes to shuttle the same number of passengers. They could also haul more cargo. Passengers could trim all the wasted time that occurs waiting for flights and connections at airports.

Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached at peter.bigelow@teamaol.com and followed @PeterCBigelow.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      alfredschrader
      • 1 Year Ago
      System I invented uses inexpensive cell phone cameras to see under the jet liner so the pilot can tell if the chocks are gone, the landing gear is lowered and locked when landing, there are no errant pieces of luggage or jack rabbits in the way, etc. I wasn't at the ParisAirshow this year. The designs I have makes most of this look like expensive junk.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @alfredschrader
        Al, did 'they' leave the Nurse's station unattended again? Don't make their job any harder. They've got enough to deal with, without you serruptitiously using the computer!
        dickn2000b
        • 1 Year Ago
        @alfredschrader
        Hey Alfred...Will you please get that high colonic I suggested? You're so full of **it!
      curtj105
      • 1 Year Ago
      All of these fantastic dogfight maneuvers leave the aircraft within the frag pattern of a missile.
      tikitom
      • 1 Year Ago
      Unless the Russians are using the French Insigna on their Fighters, That is a French Rafale Good Job "carney 373", you would make a Good Foward observer !
      carney373
      • 1 Year Ago
      The photos accompanying entry 2 show the French Dassault Rafale, not the Russian Su-35.
      Gordon
      • 1 Year Ago
      Another idiot reporter that knows nothing about what he is covering, kinda like the Zimmerman trial.
        M
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Gordon
        That trial has been a lot like watching paint dry, or an egg falling, in slow motion. And that was pretty easily predicted by the opening statemants. It seems to me that the prosecutors may have been trying the Ali "rope-a-dope" trick to get the best of the defense material out in front, let them commit to it, then get off the ropes and point out the "problems" in the story they already pushed. I can think of one worse reporter... The live TV broadcast of the second plane on 9/11 had a TV reporter talking about how the plane tried to maneuver away from the tower, and still hit it anyway. That was OBVIOUS nonsense as I watched it... the maneuvering was to tilt the aircraft so the ENTIRE wingspan would hit the tower. None of the replays included that commentary.
      Nobody
      • 1 Year Ago
      @carney. What are you blind or just stupid! That is The SU-35. . you cant fix stupid.
      zeroagenow
      • 1 Year Ago
      lindbergh was not the first to cross the atlantic by air, he is just the first guy to do it solo. it had already been crossed by a group of military bombers.
        doug
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zeroagenow
        correct on that one. however there were a pair of french aviators that made it to the u.s. but crashed in the woods of maine--thus they did not survive like lindbergh did to tell about the flight. this happened about a week before his flight and they were civilians as well if memory serves.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zeroagenow
        Yes, two British aviators flew non-stop across the Atlantic in 1919, 8 years before Lindbergh made his solo trip. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transatlantic_flight_of_Alcock_and_Brown
        John
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zeroagenow
        Correct! why you got a thumbs down boggles the mind.
      nick
      • 1 Year Ago
      those pics are of the french rafale
      lthrnck68
      • 1 Year Ago
      Half plane/half helicopter. V-22 Osprey. Picture looked like the weapons platforms in Avatar.
        M
        • 1 Year Ago
        @lthrnck68
        Do you suppose that's a coincidence? *smirk*
      Mbukukanyau
      • 1 Year Ago
      The French are commies, and US AF does not involve itself with commies
      dickn2000b
      • 1 Year Ago
      With reference to #1. What about engine warm up time and operating stabilization? Are the engines off or idling? Is there a chance of engine stall upon takeoff?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @dickn2000b
        1. Jet engines do not require warm up. 2. Operating stabilization -- depends on the particular engine. Enough time will be spent while going through the pre-take off checks. 3. The plan is to use electrical power from the APU for taxying. Use of batteries would probably ruin the batteries. 4. Main engines would be off. That's how fuel is saved. The main engines guzzle fuel while idling on ground or taxying. Taxying fuel flow is about equal to cruising fuel flow at 40,000 feet. 5. Makes no difference to engine performance on take off.
          M
          • 1 Year Ago
          I agree with John's reply. Your comment, and thinking, has apparently confused the pre-flight work as driving the time the engines *have* to warm up, but the truth is the reverse. As someone who wrote BITs (Built In Tests) for jet aircraft systems, there was a time budget for every part of the "pre-filght" time that **coincidently** matched the minimum required jet engine warm-up. If you are 'thinking' of a "military emergency takeoff", or other EMERGENCY situation, like take off or get destroyed on the ground, well, I suppose it might be worth trying to fly before the warm-up completed in that situation. I would be hard pressed to imagine anything short of a tsunami or incoming airstrike (maybe ground attack) that would give both warning time and a strong enough reason to try. I don't know if it would even work to try to get out of the path of an approaching tornado and/or hailstorm by flying in such weather and proximity to such a strong storm, but maybe that too. As to the battery comment, battery components require periodic replacement and/or maintenance anyway; it is what they do, used or not. Given that fuel costs continue to increase, the cost of such a system appears to be a bargain vs. 4% fuel savings. You *might be* confusing some over-engineered setups that allow for battery degradation, and still maintain a minimum requirement. (EX: battery system designed for 150% of requirement can degrade 1/3 before it MUST be replaced; typical engineering technique.)
          John
          • 1 Year Ago
          Guy your full of it. Slamming the throttle wide open on a just strated turbine is a disater waiting to happen. Oil needs to come up to pressure and operating temp. Many turbines have oil heaters to pre warm the oil. Your statement number contradicts what you said in one that the warm up. No it wouldn't ruin the batteries duh if the power controller doesn't malfunction. Batteries are designed to discharge and charge. Oh by the way did I mention I used to build design and build turbines for PWA?
      denoferth
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hmm, a "reporter" assigned to report on the prestigious Paris Airshow can't tell the difference between a French Dassault Rafale and a Russian Sukhoi Su-45? I appears not much has changed in the talking heads community. Maybe we should look on the bright side; twenty years ago the same "reporters" would be calling it a Piper Cub.
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