Bye Energy, Cessna Move Toward the Electric 172

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

In a press release datelined Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 26, Cessna Aircraft Company announced, “That it is collaborating with Bye Energy, Inc., an integrator of clean, alternative energy technologies for business and general aviation aircraft, to design and develop an electric propulsion system for a Cessna 172 proof of concept (POC) aircraft.”  Bye Energy is a Colorado-based aerospace company, and its CEO, George Bye, presented the Green Flight Project, his vision of the electric 172 at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium in Rohnert Park, California on April 24.  The fact that Cessna would agree to such collaboration is a significant step, and a verification of the market research Bye and his group have done.  Possibly fueled by the fuel question – where …

Two Great (Mostly) Gasless Road Trips

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

A group of Italian engineers is embarking on a 13,000 kilometer (8,000 mile) road trip from Italy to Shanghai, China, retracing Marco Polo’s route.  The vehicles are central to this adventure, though – two pairs of bright orange Piaggio Porter vans, (mostly) driverless and running on stored electricity and sunlight.  With sensors and cameras nestled under their solar panel roof racks and control by a Vislab system, the two pairs of vehicles will be as autonomous as possible, even though a human will be in the driver’s seat to take over in an emergency and another technician will be on board to help with repairs.   Another pair of guide vehicles will lead the way for each pair of autonomous vehicles, and several other support …

AirVenture 2010 World Symposium At Eagle Hangar

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

An indication of the enthusiasm people are showing for the potential of electric flight, tickets are going fast for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s 2010 World Symposium on Electric Aircraft, part of AirVenture 2010.   The WSEA will be held on Friday July 30 on the Eagle Hangar main stage. The morning session, titled, “The Dream of Flight,” runs from 9 a.m. to Noon.  The lunch session, “The Voice of Experience: Electric Aircraft Builders,” runs from Noon to1:30 p.m., and the afternoon session, “Putting Vision to Practice,” runs from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. According to the EAA, “Among the confirmed participants for the symposium are FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt; Electric Aircraft Corporation founder Randall Fishman; Yuneec founder Tian Yu; Sonex Aircraft founder John Monnett; …

Solar Cells Can Never Be Too Thin

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AirVenture’s unofficial prize for the most popular aircraft at each year’s fly in – the brown grass award, named for the trampled turf around the much-thronged craft, had a CAFE Foundation equivalent at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium.  That would be the crumpled carpet prize for the circles around Dr. Joseph (Joe) Armstrong, Chief Technical Officer for Ascent Solar, a Thornton, Colorado-based firm.  Wearing a bandolier-like ribbon of extremely thin, flexible solar cells at the end of his talk, he was surrounded by break-takers eager to get a closer look at his impressive array of photovoltaics.  Commercial production modules of the copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) cells have been verified at an industry-high10.5-percent efficiency by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  The …

QinetiQ Lands After 14 Days Aloft

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QinetiQ, a British aerospace manufacturer, launched its unmanned, solar-powered twin-motored aircaft from the Yuma, Arizona Proving Grounds on July 9, 2010 and landed it today, July 24. According to QinetiQ’s press release, ” Zephyr successfully landed after 14 days (336 hours) and 21 minutes flying over Arizona and is now awaiting official confirmation of its world record status.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT-DYeEP8dg “An official from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the world air sports federation, has been monitoring progress at the Yuma Proving Ground and when Zephyr is back on the ground he looks set to be able to confirm a number of new world records. This includes quadrupling its own unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight (82 hours, 37 minutes set in …

Green Flight Challenge: Six Steps to Synergy

Dean Sigler GFC, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Conventional wisdom says that an airplane is a collection of compromises – a premise seemingly borne out in practice.  Bigger wings mean slower speeds, but more lift.  Smaller engines mean less performance, but better economy.  Roomier cockpits mean lower fuel mileage and reduced cross-country range.  Everybody knows these things. But what if, applying the Firesign Theater’s comedic dictum, “Everything you know is wrong,” someone shook those bits of conventional wisdom and sorted out a new way of looking at an airplane?  It’s been done before.  Burt Rutan’s wildly creative approach to seeing past convention gave us the Varieze, Catbird, Boomerang, Proteus, Voyager, and Spaceship One, among others.  Because such creations don’t follow the usual scientific method of changing one variable …

Dr. Stephen H. Schneider: 1945 – 2010

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Dr. Stephen Schneider, Stanford University climate scientist, early advocate of climate change and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.N. organization that with former Vice President Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, died Monday of a heart attack while on a flight to London from a science meeting in Stockholm, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.  He held many post-doctoral degrees and was a scientific advisor for every president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama.  He was awarded several post-doctoral fellowships and won the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 1972.  He and his wife,  Dr. Terry Root, shared the national Conservation Achievement Award in 1993 from the National Wildlife Federation. His web site provides an …

QinetiQ Zephyr Breaks Official Record for Solar-Powered Endurance

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

According to BBC News and GlobalFlight.com, QinetiQ’s Zephyr, a 22.5 meter (72 feet) unmanned, solar-powered aircraft has been in the air for more than a week over the Yuma, Arizona Proving Grounds, and program managers intend to keep it there for a total time of at least fourteen days.  Having flown since 6:40 a.m. July 9, its endurance is now four times that of any other unmanned aerial vehicle.   A US Global Hawk holds the current official world endurance record for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of 30 hours, 24 minutes.  Zephyr’s record is being certified by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the world air sports federation. Jon Saltmarsh, Zephyr’s project manager, says the craft, “Is basically the first ‘eternal aircraft,’”  a name once given to …

CAFE News: Become a Part of Aviation History – Help Fund the Green Flight Challenge

Dean Sigler GFC Leave a Comment

The CAFE Foundation is a small, all volunteer, and remarkably effective group based at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, California.  Consider that the Foundation Board members, eight strong, planned and executed all aspects of the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium. This world-class gathering was the product of tight organization, shared goals, and truly remarkable, dedicated people. CAFE Foundation has also documented the performance and flying characteristics of over 25 popular light aircraft, providing scientifically accurate verification or rejection of the sometimes extravagant claims of builders and manufacturers.  They have created scientific instruments and techniques that have enhanced the collection of accurate data.  Hard work and honesty has provided a touchstone for the evaluation of modern …

Hail HALE: Boeing’s “Flying Bowling Pin”

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

On July 12, at its St. Louis, Missouri plant, Boeing rolled out its Phantom Eye high altitude long endurance (HALE) aircraft.  Various members of the press and several bloggers took an opportunity to pelt the new plane with sobriquets such as, “flying bowling pin,” or “fat kid,”  failing to understand the aerodynamic advantages of the laminar flow fuselage.  A quick study of CAFE Foundation references would correct these reporters’ initial impressions. Notwithstanding the apparently controversial aesthetics of the 150-foot span craft, the exciting news for green aviation enthusiasts is its power system – a pair of 15o-horsepower, 2.3 liter Ford Duratec engines, turbocharged and fueled by a “breakthrough” liquid hydrogen system.  The long wings, drooping in the press photos, will …