Published January 26, 2016
Long-EZ "Borealis" in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on December 28, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)
DAYTON, Ohio - Long EZ engine on display in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
First manned PDE-powered flight, Jan. 31, 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo)
In January 2008, this modified Scaled Composites Long-EZ completed the first manned flight of an aircraft powered by a pulsed detonation engine (PDE). The flight was the result of a five-year cooperative effort between the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Innovative Scientific Solutions Incorporated (ISSI). The project used the popular homebuilt Long-EZ designed by Burt Rutan as a platform.
Engines normally burn fuel and air at subsonic speeds to provide propulsion. Pulsed detonation engines detonate the fuel-air mixture to produce repeated, controlled explosions. The resulting supersonic shockwaves create thrust. In this PDE, the thrust is expelled through four tubes out the back of the aircraft. Remarkably, the PDE engine in this aircraft was made in part from off-the-shelf automotive parts.
Pulsed detonation engines are much less complicated and promise to be less expensive to operate than jet engines. Moreover, they offer a fuel savings of between 5-20 percent over traditional turbojet engines. Although still in development, PDEs may become more common as the technology matures.
This aircraft was delivered to the museum in 2008.
Click here to return to the Research & Development Gallery.
Please note Springfield Street, the road that leads to the museum’s entrance, is undergoing construction through the beginning of September. Expect lane reductions and some delays. Please follow the signs and instructions provided by the road crews.
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The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located at:
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433
(near Dayton, Ohio)