On an aviation technology note, Scott Spangler, the blogger behind the Jetwhine blog, has just written an interesting post about Cessna’s efforts to develop a new type of advanced aircraft “skin.” Apparently, Cessna had worked as a team with GE and the Georgia Institute of Technology on a NASA study last year and this led them to develop a new composite skin called STAR-C2 which stands for: “Smoothing, Thermal, Absorbing, Reflective, Conductive, Cosmetic.”
However, Wired has called the Cessna skin innovation a “self-healing ‘magic skin’ condom for future aircraft.” Moreover, the skin weighs less than half of what current composite skin or coatings would weigh and it comes with a layer of energy absorbing foam that is more damage tolerant. In addition and above this foam layer, there is a conductive layer that will protect the aircraft from the effects of lightening plus it holds the possibility of alerting pilots or mechanics where there is a problem.
Hence, Cessna as a contract from NASA to further develop it. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of challenges surrounding the skin’s development and it may take some time before its used on an actual aircraft.
Scott ended his post by saying that just a decade ago, STAR-C2 would have been considered science fiction – just like finding a renewable energy source to power flight is still largely in the realm of science fiction. However and perhaps just a decade from now, that will change as well.