AFRL Pulsed Detonation Engine AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory) personnel developed this Pulsed Detonation Engine (PDE) in the 2000s using mostly inexpensive, off-the-shelf automotive components. The engine worked by detonating the fuel-air mixture in repeated, controlled explosions. The resulting shockwaves created a peak thrust up to about 200 lbs. On Jan. 31, 2008, a modified Scaled Composites Long-EZ completed the first manned flight of an aircraft powered by a PDE. Click here to return to the Research & Development Gallery. Find Out More Related Fact Sheets Scaled Composites Long-EZ "Borealis"