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Landmark Patents in the History of Aeronautics

Here is a list of key patents in the history of aeronautics:

  • The Wright brothers' patent for a "Flying Machine" (US Patent No. 821,393), which was granted in 1906.
  • Autopilot system (US Patent No. 1,508,261), which was granted to Sperry Corporation in the 1920s. This patent covered the use of electronic controls to keep an aircraft flying on a predetermined course without the need for constant input from the pilot.
  • Helicopter (US Patent No. 2,169,637), which was granted to Igor Sikorsky in 1939.
  • The jet engine (UK Patent No. 393,562), which was granted to Frank Whittle in 1932.
  • The Commercial jetliner, which was granted to Boeing in the 1950s.
  • The jetliner's turbofan engine (US Patent No. 3,168,343), which was granted to Rolls-Royce in the 1950s.
  • The supersonic transport (SST) (US Patent No. 3,249,120), which was granted to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in the 1960s.
  • The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) (US Patent No. 3,107,857), which was granted to Honeywell in the 1960s. This patent described the use of a device that could record the conversations and sounds in the cockpit of an aircraft, which could be used to investigate accidents and incidents.
  • The Anti-icing system (US Patent No. 3,302,737), which was granted to Boeing in the 1960s. This patent covered the use of heaters and/or chemicals to prevent ice from forming on the wings and other critical surfaces of an aircraft.
  • The variable geometry wing (US Patent No. 3,352,594), which was granted to Boeing in the 1960s. This patent covered the use of wings that could be changed in shape to optimize their performance for different flight conditions.
  • The supersonic Concorde, the patent for which was granted to a consortium of British and French companies in the 1960s.
  • The Winglet (US Patent No. 3,939,362), which was granted to NASA in the 1970s.
  • The avionics system (US Patent No. 3,959,787), which was granted to Honeywell in the 1970s which covered the use of electronic systems to control and monitor the various systems on an aircraft, including navigation, communication, and engine performance.
  • The fly-by-wire system (US Patent No. 3,986,817), which was granted to Airbus in the 1970s.
  • The fly-by-light system (US Patent No. 4,382,347), which was granted to Boeing in the 1980s.
  • Space Shuttle, the patent for which was granted to NASA in the 1970s.
  • The GPS system (US Patent No. 4,001,311), which was granted to the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1970s.
  • The fly-by-optics system (US Patent No. 4,478,487), which was granted to NASA in the 1980s which covered the use of lasers to transmit electronic signals to control the movement of an aircraft's control surfaces.
  • The Airbus A380, the patent for which was granted to Airbus in the 1990s.
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