Smart Skies Down Under

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants 1 Comment

Mr Richard R. Glassock holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with honors, and supervises undegraduate unmanned aerial vehicle projects at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA). He currently leads the “Smart Skies” unmanned aerial systems flight-testing program and is working on his Master’s Thesis. At the Twenty-Fourth Bristol International Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems Conference, in 2009, Bristol United Kingdom he presented a detailed paper on a parallel hybrid system using off the shelf model aircraft components he and his associates designed and tested. “Multimodal Hybrid Powerplant for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Robotics” shows the use of an OS 10 cc model airplane engine, combined with a Plettenberg 220 motor. His group found …

Solar Cells – All That Glitters Need Not Be Gold

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The search for less expensive solar cells drives many lines of research these days, with trends toward smaller collectors and less expensive materials leading the way.  Many solar cells use gold and other pricey metals to provide junctions within the cell structure.  Gold closed Friday at $1,204.00 per troy ounce on the London Metal Exchange, and nickel at $10.01 per pound.  That would make gold worth $17,558 per avoirdupois pound (14.583 troy ounces per pound), or 1,754 times more expensive than nickel.    According to Gizmag, University of Toronto investigators found that substituting nickel for the previously used gold as collection contacts in their colloidal quantum dot solar cells provided equal performance, at a 40 to 80-percent drop in solar …

LEAP Awards at WSEA

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At the World Symposium on Electric Aircraft, AirVenture’s overview of electric aircraft progress, the morning session ended with the presentation of the LEAP (Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize) awards.  Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh and founder of the Creative Solutions Alliance, announced the winners at the July 30 session. According to the Alliance’s press release, “LEAP is a suite of prizes that recognizes significant contributions to the development of practical electric flight, and stimulates meaningful advances in the fledgling electric aircraft industry. LEAP awarded a total of $25,000 in prize money, an amount equal to the Orteig prize that was won by Charles Lindbergh for his 1927 solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. In doing so, Charles Lindbergh …

Hanging on The Prop, Backwards

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Burt Rutan, as part of his keynote address at the World Symposium on Electric Aircraft, “’mused about electric-powered aerobatic aircraft whose reversible motors would enable them to deliver symmetric or asymmetric thrust as called for by each maneuver,’” according to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s news release by James Wynbrandt. “’Imagine an Oshkosh air show where [the planes] dive straight toward the ground and stop,’” Rutan said. ‘They’re not fantasy anymore. The RC [radio-controlled model] indoor guys are doing this. “’It’s happening. It’s easy to do.’” Video proof of Rutan’s assertion can be found on YouTube. The Electric Tournament of Champions, held at Toledo, Ohio April 3rd and 4th, 2009 drew competitors from all over the world.  As shown in the video, R. …

A New ERA For Helicopters

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Sikorsky Aircraft introduced its electric Firefly at AirVenture 2010 this week, but other ways to achieve green aviation are also showing up at Oshkosh.  Avimech International Aircraft introduced its Dragonfly tip-jet helicopter, powered by hydrogen peroxide.  Besides turning brunettes into blondes, H2O2 has propulsive qualities, often functioning as part of a rocket fuel mix.  Manufacturing cargo conversion systems for large passenger aircraft and providing aircraft support services, Tuscon, Arizona-based Avimech promotes the use of H2O2 as a green fuel, and the new helicopter as an example of “Environmentally Responsible Aviation.” Its simplicity is a major feature.  Tip jet propulsion forces fuel from the tanks flanking the pilot through rotor-tip openings, where the fuel reacts with a catalyst, spinning the rotor …

Yuneec E430’s to Top Everest

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According to FlightGlobal.com, two Yuneec International E430’s will attempt to fly in formation over Mt. Everest next January or February.  This will be the first flight over the 29,029ft (8,848m) peak by electric aircraft, and will highlight, “The viability of electric-powered flight and Yuneec’s designs,” according to FlightGlobal, the web-based outlet for Flight International magazine.  Their report includes this video interview with Pierre Hallet, the French distributor for Yuneec, and one of the pilots slated for the expedition. According to Hallet , the only modification to the aircraft will be the addition of a DUC variable-pitch propeller, presumably to provide optimized climb in the thin atmosphere.  Aircraft will be shipped to Katmandu, where they will be assembled, then flown to a …

Sikorsky’s Project Firefly™ Electric Helicopter Demonstrator

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

 Sikorsky Innovations, the technology development arm of Sikorsky Aircraft, revealed last week at the Farnborough International Air show and this week at AirVenture 2010, the Firefly™ Technology Demonstration Aircraft, the first all-electric helicopter. Based on an S-300C, the electrified version replaces the original Lycoming drive train with a U.S. Hybrid power package consisting of a 200 horsepower electric motor, motor controller, and 1,100-pound lithium- battery from Gaia.  To monitor operations and “the health” of the craft, Sikorsky has installed an LCD display in the modified center console. One benefit of electrified helicopters would be the discarding of the traditional complex series of mechanical links between the main rotor power takeoff and the tail rotor.  The tail rotor on Firefly can …

Yuneec Adds to Airplane, Motor Lineup

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Shanghai-based Yuneec, already promoting a line of electric paramotors, an electric trike, the two-seat E430, unveiled at last year’s AirVenture, and a series of motor/controller/battery combinations, has added to their offerings at AirVenture 2010.  New craft include two aircraft, the Apis 2 and Viva from Martin Wezel Flugzeugtechnik, a German designer and purveyor of sailplanes and light sport aircraft.   The Apis 2 is a derivation of the Silent electric sailplane, and in this application will be powered by a Yuneec motor system.  The Viva, a two-seat motorglider, was designed originally for an HKS-700E two-cylinder engine of about 60 horsepower, and will be converted, like the Apis, to Yuneec power. Spanning 15 meters (49.2 feet), the Apis 2 has a best lift-to-drag …

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

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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 …