Future airplanes might wear self-healing magic condoms

Okay, maybe it's not quite a condom, but the concept is pretty close. NASA's awarded Cessna an extended research contract to work on a protective skin for airplanes that self-heal when punctured or torn.

As leftover scraps from a GE/Cessna project from a year ago, STAR-C2 (short for "smoothing thermal reflective, conductive, cosmetic) is a NASA funded project to create a thin coating made from conductive film and energy absorbing foam that would provide real life damage meters for airplanes.

Essentially, damaged sections of an airplane that would normally be be hard to spot at a glance would be quickly identifiable by maintenance crew during inspection time because of the visible damage markings.

In addition to having real life damage meters, the skin would be able to heal the aircraft (although the info on how it does so has yet to be released) and shield it from lightning, extreme temperatures and electromagnetic interference.

For the time being, self-healing airplanes are still a ways off — roughly 20 to 25 years. But for the sake of improving aviation and preventing disasters like the lightning that brought a Colombian airplane down, killing one passenger last year, a magic condom could make all the difference.

Aviationweek, via Popsci

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