The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) recently announced plan to put an electric airplane in the air by 2018 is forward-looking, but hardly unique.
History teaches us that engineers have been launching full-scale, electrically propelled airplanes for decades. From the solar-powered AeroVironment Gossamer Penguin to the Airbus E-Fan to the Boeing Fuel Cell Demonstrator, electric aircraft projects have sprung up in the biggest and best aeronautics organizations.
Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 32 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and autos.