Comco Ikarus Flies on Electric Power

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Relatively unknown to American pilots, Germany’s largest ultralight aircraft manufacturer, Comco Ikarus in Mengen, was able to announce the first flight of its successful two- seater C42 / CS as an electric version just before the start of AERO, the annual aircraft exposition in Friedrichshafen. Comco’s C42 CS forms the basis for the electric version.  The avgas-powered version flies with either an 80-horsepower or 100-horsepower Rotax engine, the electric version with a 32-kilowatt (50 horsepower) electric motor from Geiger Engineering.  Geiger’s power package includes their dedicated controller, control lever, and monitoring instrument.  Four battery packs, 15 kilograms (33 pounds) each, power the prototype, but production versions will have six packs, enabling flight times of up to 90 minutes. The first electric …

Sunflyer Takes to the Air

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Following assorted powerplant and taxi texts, the prototype Sun Flyer 2 prototype took to the air over Centennial Airport (KAPA) south of Denver, Colorado.  Further tests will expand speed, altitude, and endurance capabilities, according to Bye Aerospace. George Bye, Founder and CEO of Bye Aerospace, enthused, “We are excited about the future and the potential the Sun Flyer family of aircraft has to revolutionize general aviation, providing improved affordability and accessibility.  Lower operating costs are key to solving the student pilot drop-out rate, which is curtailing the successful attainment of badly needed airline pilots. The Sun Flyer 2’s $3 hourly operating costs are 10 times lower than traditional piston-engine flight trainers, with no carbon emissions and significantly reduced noise.” Such …

The Coming Golden Age of Electric Air Races?

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

An Electric Great Air Race 100 years ago, a great air race – “The Great Air Race” – in fact, was held with competitors flying from Great Britain to the Northern Territories of Australia.  Crews had 30 days to make the trip, and considering the reliability of engines at that time and the primitive nature of aerial navigation, very little time to relax. Of the six teams that entered, only two made it, three crashing (two fatally) and a fourth team being imprisoned in Yugoslavia as suspected Bolsheviks.  Only two teams finished, and only one received the 10,000 Pound Sterling prize (about 544,577 pounds today – over $775,000), enough to cause the six crews to accept the high risk  involved. …

Get a Spine!  Flexible, High-Density Energy Storage

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The Vertebrate Battery “Prof. Yuan Yang of the engineering school at Columbia University (New York) modeled, designed, built, and fully evaluated a configuration that emulates the spine of vertebrates, while providing 85% of the energy density of a prismatic Li-ion cell with equivalent volume.” According to Power Electronics.com. Professor Yang’s 14-member team, working in the impressively-named Center for Precision Assembly of Superstratic and Superatomic Solids, and  inspired by the flexibility of the human spine and its ability to repeatedly endure bending and twisting, designed a battery that emulates the characteristics of what is in essence a structural battery.  We know from experience that our backbones can perform some pretty extraordinary twists and turns – witness the supple routines of gymnasts …

Starling Jet Comes in Three Sizes

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

 The Starling Jet now joins electric or hybrid flying commuter craft from sources all over the world. A Middle-East backed, London-based project, the Starling Jet is swoopy and high-winged, and comes in three sizes with different missions. The Commuter Craft Trifecta Time, a most precious commodity, is the major selling point for most of these sky taxis.  Saving an executive’s schedule enhances productivity, whether it’s whisking a CEO over the traffic jams in Dallas or Dubai.  For many similar machines, the impetus is to democratize the flight experience, offering many an Uber-like experience at Uber-like prices.  Samad Aerospace, creator the Starlings, is looking toward a more exclusive market. All such craft promise the convenience of point-to-point transportation, foregoing intermediate shuttle …

Schleicher’s Sustainable Flight for Two

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Alexander Schleicher Segelflugzeugbau (sailplane maker) has been crafting high-performance soaring craft since its inception in 1927.  Their latest creation, a two-seat, 20-meter (65.6 feet) span motorsegler, the ASG32 El, includes a 25 kilowatt synchronous motor driving a Schleicher-designed 1.55 meter (5 feet) retractable propeller.   The motor is a “home help” device, a sustainer motor to keep the ASG 32 El aloft once it is launched by a winch or by being pulled by a towplane.  The motor does not allow for self-launching.  Its low power, coupled with the airplane’s clean design, does enable a 1.3 meter-per-second (255 feet per minute) rate of climb.  The aircraft’s battery is sufficient for 20 minutes of all-out power or 100 kilometers (62 miles) …

Battery Startup Cuberg Receives Funding from Boeing

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Cuberg, a battery startup “Founded based on graduate research work in the materials science department at Stanford,” includes individuals who worked with Yi Cui at the school.  They promote their safe electrolyte as a key element in their new battery.  “Our highly stable proprietary electrolyte enables the use of high-voltage cathodes and lithium metal anodes in a safe and reliable format.” Their video shows the relative safety of that premise.  It starts, though, with a quick review of their manufacturing techniques, which are similar to standard methods used in most batteries. The team, headed by Richard Wang, “Entrepreneur and Battery Scientist,” includes co-founder Mauro Pasta, an Associate Professor at Oxford University.  His Linked In profile includes this note: “Cuberg is …

When You Wake Up Hungry – Fly to the Bakery!

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Electric-Flight.eu reports on three Germans who made a bathtub fly – and used it to fetch pastries.  As the website reports, “The Real Life Guys” are two Darmstadt students and one DB train attendant who shook up the media last week . They connected a bathtub with an aluminum scaffolding and six 9.6 [kilowatt] motors (€1 065 or about $1,191[each]) from the model building sector to 42-Volt batteries and blew it up.”  “Blew it up” means lifting it skyward on the power of what look like six Hacker model airplane motors, capable of putting out 15 kilowatts (20.1 hp) each for 15 seconds.  The 9.6 kW (12.9 hp) output cited in the Electric-Flight article seems realistic for sustained output, and …

China Updates, Increases Range for RX1E-A

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

China Global Television Network, or CGTN, reports on an updated version of an electric airplane that first took flight in 2015.  The original RX1E could fly for 45 minutes on its battery pack, limiting its utility.  The RX1E-A’s six lithium battery packs can keep the new machine in the air for up to two hours and achieve a maximum speed of 160 kilometers per hour (99.4 mph).  This type of performance makes it more suitable for training and cross-country flights. Similar to a long-winged version of Pipistrel’s Alpha Electro Trainer, soon to be produced in China, the RX1E-A grosses out at 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds), suitable for most Light Sport Aircraft regulations.  It will be interesting to see if production …

Too Late for Boxing Day*, Ehang Delivers the Goods

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Broadcast live on December 24, this demonstration of the eHang 184 is, interestingly, an English-language presentation, with a lot of English names floating about. Someone named Mike shows off the Ehang 184 in this Christmas-related special.  His friend Miranda snugs herself into the compact passenger compartment, tries on the safety harnesses, and deplanes before committing aviation.  The video is a sales pitch for the drone manufacturer – actually more of a long wind-up before a pitch into the air.  Mike takes us through a tutorial on the craft, which seats one passenger and has eight propellers that are mounted on four arms (one-eight-four, or 184). The rather ungainly entrance and exit of the petite young woman suggests possible improvements eHang’s designers …