A revolutionary Star Trek-style electric plane that flies silently and has no moving parts has completed its first test flight, in what is being hailed as one of the most significant advances in flight since the early experiments of the Wright brother more than 100 years ago.

The battery-powered plane, which was developed and tested by engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, is not kept in flight by propellers or a turbine but by an ionic wind system.

The 16ft aircraft is completely silent and colliding electrically charged air molecules provide the thrust needed to make it fly, opening the door to new generation of emissions-free passenger aircraft and silent drones.

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