Experimental plane flies silently, may lead to quiet drones

NEW YORK (AP) — A five-pound experimental aircraft has shown it can fly virtually silently by applying a strong electric field to the air. That might pave the way for very quiet drones to carry out tasks like environmental monitoring or surveillance.

It’s not yet clear whether the technology could be scaled up for use in passenger planes.

The results of 10 indoor test flights at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were reported Wednesday in a paper released by the journal Nature.

The strong electrical field turns some air molecules into charged particles, which collide with other molecules of air as they flow. That produces a wind that provides thrust for the aircraft.

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