Graphene-Skinned Unmanned Aircraft Taking Flight

Researchers from the U.K.’s University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute (NGI) say they will be conducting the world’s first public flights of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that is partly skinned in graphene.

The flights of the Prospero UAS will take place at England’s Farnborough Air Show 2016 on July 15-17.

According to UCLan, the test flights represent the next stage in the universities’ research partnership, which last year investigated the effects of graphene in drag reduction, thermal management and, ultimately, lightning-strike protection for aerospace applications.

“This newly skinned wing, produced by our industrial partners Haydale Composite Solutions, is enabling us to test the structural and weight-saving benefits of graphene,” explains Billy Beggs, UCLan’s engineering innovation manager. “The research team is still in the early stages of flight testing with the new remotely piloted aircraft, but initial test data is already very encouraging. In terms of impact resistance, the new wing is showing increased levels of impact resistance of up to 60 percent over a conventionally skinned carbon-fiber wing.”


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