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News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

Airbus flight tests plane with flapping wing-tips inspired by the albatross

•, David Szondy

Based on the structure of the albatross wing, the remote-controlled AlbatrossOne uses a "semi-aeroelastic hinge" concept that reacts to turbulence and wind gusts to minimize their effects and reduce stress on the airframe.

If you watch old newsreels online, sooner or later you're bound to come across clips of some inventor showing off an ornithopter – an airplane that flies by flapping its wings like a bird. What makes these grainy, black and white films so funny is that as the machine gyrates like a demented crow trying to take off, it remains stuck firmly to the ground until it shakes itself to bits.

But imitating the birds isn't that daft an idea. Leonardo Da Vinci's early plans for a flying machine were based on his observations of the birds, and modern engineers are still very interested in taking some tips from our feathered friends.

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