Electric Beaver Flies in Vancouver, B. C.

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Residents of Vancouver, B. C. were not awakened by the overhead passage of a DeHavilland Beaver Tuesday morning.  The electrically-powered floatplane lifted off at around 8:30 a. m. and zipped by quietly, its Magnix motor humming and only its four-bladed propeller disturbing the air.  The full-flight video below has the airplane “taxiing” for the first four minutes. Harbour Air took the daring step of publicly test flying an old but spiffily refurbished airplane with a new motor, the paint scheme revealing the location of all major electrical components.  Even more daring, Greg McDougall, founder and CEO of Harbour Air piloted the flight.  Talk about faith in your product. Engine/Motor Swap The Beaver’s original Pratt & Whitney R-985 engine produced 450 …

Austrians, Swiss, Chinese Launch Three New Electric Aircraft

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Three companies with divergent backgrounds launched three new electric aircraft in the last few months. 1973, and Its Descendants are Still Electric As noted in the blurb for its historic YouTube video for its first electric flight 46 years ago, “HB Flugtechnik is the pioneer in electric flight. The world’s first electric powered flight took place on October 21st, 1973 in Austria. 50 years later this company is still in business and doing better than ever. Given, that we talk about the aviation business, this is an outstanding and remarkable achievement. Today, HB Flugtechnik located at the now newly refurbished airfield Hofkirchen LOLH is not only the major MRO (Maintenance, Repair Organization or Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) for aircraft in …

Stimulating Simulations – Air Racing on Screen

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Tony Bishop reports on The Royal Aeronautical Society’s International Light Aircraft Design Competition, which provided stimulating simulations for on-screen air racing. The 2019 RAeS competition was to design an electric air-racer, inspired by Air Race E’s new competition starting up in 2020. With a single pilot and short duration, this is an excellent proving ground for new electric power train technologies. According to the RAES, “The design rules were based on Air Race E, but widened to encourage a broader range of configurations. Air Race E rules include a minimum empty weight of 227 kg, a maximum motor power of 150 kW, fixed pitch propellers, a minimum wing area of 6.132 square meters and a fixed main undercarriage. Air Race …

First Lindbergh E-flight Rally

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The Lindbergh E-flight Rally coinciding with Friedrichshafen’s annual Aero Expo will explore the growing capabilities of these amazing machines.  The Lindbergh Foundation invites owners of electric aircraft to gather two days before the opening of Aero Expo 2020 to fly over the scenic marvels of Germany, alighting on Expo opening day “around 11 a.m., just on time for the AERO press conference.”   The hoped-for en masse arrival would highlight the number of electric aircraft now flying and their reliability.  Organizers explain, “Like the first ultralight aircraft did then, the first electric aircraft today need to prove that they already function perfectly.” The two-day aerial cortege would fly “along Lake Constance, and past castles, palaces, and churches, to a first …

Breakthrough Batteries Two Years Away?

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Breakthrough Batteries: Powering the Era of Clean Electrification A paper by Charlie Bloch, James Newcomb, Samhita Shiledar, and Madeline Tyson of the Rocky Mountain Institute describing the near future of battery development predicts and accelerated pace of “the global energy transition” and the growing role of energy storage in “addressing the climate crisis.”  Will these “breakthough batteries” power us into the near future? Their report* notes the economic investment and potential impacts of ongoing research, which to this editor seems minor when compared to the gravity of the ongoing climate crisis.  Researchers estimate “more than $1.4 billion invested in battery technologies in the first half of 2019 alone,” less than 10 percent of the $16 billion spent in 2016 on …

Air Race E Leaps Forward with Eight Teams

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The public got a glimpse of Air Race E at this year’s Dubai Air Show.  Jeff Zaltman, CEO of Air Race E and Sandra Bour-Schaeffer, head of XO Airbus Demonstrators, pulled the wraps on Team Condor’s converted Cassutt racer – one of eight teams entering the fray.   Race E is an update of the classic small aircraft races held following World War II, and many of the airplanes in the upcoming events will be re-motored and redesigned versions of these craft.  Formula 1 racing has not changed much since its 1947 inception. Most air small air racers relied on the Continental C-85 engine, mildly uprated and turning faster than it did in Aeronca Champions or Piper Cubs.  Formula E …

Project 804 Turns Turboprop into Hybrid

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Uniting Technologies United Technologies, an aerospace leader, expands its role as United Technologies Advanced Projects (UTAP), uniting Pratt & Whitney, Collins Aerospace, United Technologies Research Center “and certain as-yet-unannounced external institutions.”  The organization’s Project 804. A hybrid-electric “X-plane” intended to reduce aircraft noise, improve fuel consumption, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and cut airline operating and maintenance costs. As exciting as the prospect sounds, the new aircraft probably won’t draw a lot of attention on the ramp.  It will look pretty much like a DeHavilland Dash 8-400, a short-to-mid range passenger hauler at just about every commercial airport in the world.  It is, indeed, a Dash 8, converted to a new and innovative hybrid-turbine power system. Entering service in 1984 as …

Hydrogen-powered Drone Makes Ocean Flight

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

A one-hour, 43-minute flight between a hospital on the Caribbean island of St. Croix and a testing facility on the neighboring island of St. Thomas probably set a record for hydrogen-powered multi-rotor, over-water drone flight.  The flight delivered live bacteria samples from a hospital on the Caribbean island of St. Croix to a testing facility on the neighboring island of St. Thomas.  The demonstration was carried out by Guinn Partners and associated organizations. Most such medical deliveries are usually over land and within urban areas. Fixed-wing drones flying with Zipline in Rwanda deliver clinical samples and blood 80 kilometers (49.6 miles) each way out and return. The Doosan Mobility Innovations (DMI) DS-30 drone is a large machine able to carry …

SAS 2019: Larry Cooke and NovaSolix

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Laurence H. (Larry) Cooke, Chief Technology Officer for NovaSolix, a California-based solar panel manufacturer, discussed a way to make what are essentially radio waves into efficient, inexpensive solar power.  His biography includes this indicator of a productive life. “Larry “Cooke has written one book, multiple papers and have over 100 granted US patents. Cooke is currently CTO and Chairman of NovaSolix, a revolutionary Carbon Nanotube Rectenna array based solar cell start-up.” NovaSolix separates its approach to capturing solar energy from the “traditional” solar cell, solar panel method. “The Old Way” Thoughtco.com says, “Any device that directly converts the energy in light into electrical energy through the process of photovoltaics is a solar cell.”  Such devices have a longer history than …

Volocopter and John Deere Partner on VoloDrone

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We usually think of farming as a back-to-the-earth, humble enterprise, eschewing urban sophistication for rural simplicity.  Volocopter, the height of such urbanity, and John Deere, its green and yellow tractors shearing suburban lawns and its giant combines harvesting wheat fields worldwide, are blurring those lines with the VoloDrone, an agricultural implement like no other. The largest John Deere combines weigh over 30,000 pounds (13,608 kilograms), while the most a Volocopter can carry is around 440 pounds (200 kilograms).   This disparity can seem heavily on the side of brutish strength, but agility and finesse also play a part in farming. Unveiled at the aptly named Future Technology Zone in Hall 13 at Agritechnica in Hanover, Germany, a demonstrator model of the …