Aviation innovation

Innovators are often guilty of searching for solutions before identifying problems; of finding gaps in the market, without being sure if there’s a market in the gap. But, as Ben Fahy discovers, Air New Zealand can’t be accused of that and, in many cases, its clever use of technology is providing answers to a range of customer concerns, some voiced, some not.


In a nondescript hangar at Whangarei Airport, a bunch of Very Clever Chaps have built a million-dollar helicopter simulator out of a tsunami-damaged Japanese plane and a collection of off-the-shelf computer gear. Idealog columnist and aviation editor Vaughn Davis overcame his prejudices against helicopters and headed north to see just how the Northland Emergency Services Trust did it.

New Zealand company Composite Helicopters is fielding calls from buyers and distributors around the world after unveiling a revolutionary helicopter that is light, durable and can be built in record time.


Is it a car? Is it a plane? Well it’s both actually. Terrafugia has just released specifications and computer graphics of its next generation flying car Transition, which is currently under construction at the company’s Massachusetts facility.