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Hydrogen-powered plane takes off

50°
329w ago - The first manned, hydrogen-powered plane has been successfully tested in the skies above Spain, its makers say.

The small, propeller-driven craft, developed by aviation giant Boeing, made three short flights at an airfield south of Madrid, the company said.

It was powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which produce only heat and water as exhaust products.

The tests could pave the way for a new generation of greener aircraft, the company said.

Boeing's chief technology officer John Tracy said the flights were "a historical technological success" and "full of promises for a greener future".

Small future

Three test flights of the two-seater aircraft took place in February and March at an airfield at Ocana, south of Madrid. The plane was modified to include a hybrid battery and fuel cell system developed by UK firm Intelligent Energy.

The fuel cells, which create electricity by combining oxygen and hydrogen, were used to power an electric motor coupled to a propeller.

During take-off the plane's batteries were used to provide an additional boost, but whilst in the air, the plane relied entirely on the cells.

Boeing said the plane has a flying time of 45 minutes but tests were limited to around half that time.
 

Mobile calls on Emirates flights

50°
331w ago - Dubai-based airline Emirates has become the first commercial airline to allow passengers to make mobile phone calls during flights.

Emirates said the first permitted mobile phone call was made on a flight between Dubai and Casablanca.

The aircraft, an Airbus A340, is fitted with a system which stops mobiles from interfering with a plane's electronics.

Emirates plans to extend the system to more aircraft and later this year add BlackBerry and other data services.

According to the airline, the mobile service will only be activated when the aircraft is at cruising altitude and the cabin crew will be able to monitor and control the use of the system.

Passengers will be able to receive and send text messages, but the crew will be able to prevent voice calls at certain times, such as during night flights.

Passengers will also be requested to keep their phones on "silent" mode, said the airline.

High demand

Emirates said it decided to introduce the use of mobile phones in its fleet after experiencing high demand for the phones already installed in aircraft seats.

The airline had to obtain approval from international air safety organisations before adopting the system, which was developed by the AeroMobile company....
 

A380 superjumbo lands in Sydney

50°
353w ago - The world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, has landed in Sydney on its first commercial flight, after a seven-hour journey from Singapore.

Singapore Airlines took delivery of the huge plane, dubbed the Superjumbo, just over a week ago. Passengers bought seats in a charity online auction. It can carry some 850 passengers, but took about 450 to Sydney.

The superjumbo's advent ends a reign of nearly four decades by the Boeing 747 as the world's biggest airliner.
 
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