Boeing Announces Zunum Progress, Acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences

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

Boeing made two announcements this week that show the maker of large aircraft willing to investigate niche markets at smaller scales and with more personal service for flyers.  Both involve electric power and the potential for automated flight. Zunum To Fly by 2020, In Service by 2022 Zunum Aero, the Boeing- and Jet Blue-backed regional airliner startup, will begin development of a 10-to-12 passenger airplane, hybrid powered with large electric ducted fans at the rear of the fuselage.  Having flown on earlier examples of 10-passenger “airliners,” your editor welcomes this smaller package.  Ford Trimotors and DeHavilland Dragons carried passengers in the 1930s, with simple accommodations and window seats for all.  The single-aisle made boarding and deplaning easy and quick, and …

David Ullman: Flying on Multiple Tiny Motors

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

David Ullman, a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, predicted electric flight’s future in articles in 2009* and 2010**.  His predictions have come (mostly) true and David is working to fulfill the rest.  His background in mechanical and aeronautical engineering provides credibility for his prognostications, and he’s taking practical steps to take electric aviation to a next, very creative level. While Uber’s Elevate Summit in Dallas earlier this year focused on big-money players in the vertical aviation world, David and co-creator Vincent H. Homer promoted their paper, “The IDEAL for Near-VTOL Aircraft.”  IDEAL represents “Integrated Distributed Electric – Augmented Lift” flight, using “thrust from distributed electric propulsion to improve the lift and drag performance of the aircraft during takeoff, cruise …

GoFly and Win Big Prizes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

“Have You Ever Dreamed of Flying?” Boeing asks, and answers its own question: “We’re making that dream a reality.”  Well, actually, the person entering HeroX and Boeing’s GoFly competition will make their own dream a reality, and possibly win substantial sums in the process. Abundance Insider, an Internet outreach from Peter Diamandis, himself well-acquainted with prize competitions, gives an excellent short rundown on the competition. “What it is: HeroX recently announced the GoFly Prize, sponsored by Boeing — a $2 million challenge to create a personal flying machine that is useful, safe and thrilling (italics by the editor). The goal is to foster the development of a safe, quiet, ultra-compact, near-VTOL personal flying device capable of flying 20 miles while …

A Range Extender You Can Ride Home

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Range extenders make any airplane to which they are attached a hybrid aircraft, with an engine-driven generator charging batteries or driving one or more electric motors that provide thrust.  Speaking today at the 7th EASN International Conference on Innovation in European Aeronautics Research, Richard Glassock, a Fellow at the Institute of Aerospace Technology at the University of Nottingham, gave the range extender a completely new mission. His innovation comes in two versions, the RExLite and RExMoto.  RExLite is a simple generator drive that mounts under the aircraft.  RExMoto looks similar – a streamlined pod under the aircraft – but can be converted to a motorcycle when on the ground.  Both “use conventionally-fueled combustion-engine-driven electrical generators to provide energy at peak …

Zeppelins, Blimps and Plimps

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

How about exploring a softer, gentler form of flight?  Certainly, gas-filled envelopes provide a large way to transport goods and people, but for a variety of reasons, have fallen out of favor in recent years.  Several entrepreneurs are trying to revive an old idea. Hanging Over Our Heads One threat hanging over our heads is that of plummeting drones, either having exhausted their short-range batteries or banging up against a tall building.  The infamous video of a drone falling onto a woman in Seattle has been removed from YouTube, probably for legal reasons, but an abundance of others are there for your viewing pleasure. Maybe More Truth than Poetry Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote a prescient bit of poetry in 1835, …

HopFlyt Channels the Custer Channel Wing

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

HopFlyt is an enthusiastic young organization devoted to renewing the Custer Channel Wing, a lost remnant of attempts to create extremely short takeoff and landing (STOL) airplanes starting over 70 years ago.  Their web site explains their primary goal, which includes adding electrically-powered vertical takeoffs and landings to the channel wing’s repertoire. “HopFlyt is an aviation technology startup company [whose] main priority is to develop technology and ultimately build a sustainable electric Vertical Takeoff & Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The goal of this aircraft is to help you beat the jam of traffic and reduce pollution in major urban centers around the world. We want to change your 2 hours of traffic into a short 20 minutes of flying.” Willard Custer’s …

Sun Flyer’s Two and Four Seat Electric Aircraft

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

George Bye has spent the last decade developing a viable two-seat training aircraft that would be electrically powered.  His efforts included a Cessna 172 that took wing on battery power, and have evolved to the current product, a sleek two-seater that has 105 deposits to buy worldwide. At AirVenture 2017, George displayed the Sun Flyer 2 and announced plans to introduce a four-seater, the Sun Flyer 4.  With ground tests complete on the aircraft and its 45-pound Emrax motor, George envisions flight tests coming this fall for the 2.  Even given successful flight tests, certification may take two to three years.  George has been working with the FAA to enable certification under Part 23 rules, and has made great headway …

SmartFlyer Challenge: Electric Airplanes Fill Swiss Skies

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

There are few times one will see more than one electric airplane at the same place – outside of perhaps, Friedrichshafen’s e-Flight Expo every year.  But to see them flying at the same field on the same day is an even grander delight.  That happened September 9 and 10 at Grenchen, Switzerland.  Grenchen hosted the world’s first all-electric fly-in – the SmartFlyer Challenge.  It drew an appreciable number of electric aircraft of all sizes and types despite the clouds and rain that kept some from scaling the mountains. An Electric Three-Plane Formation Flight The Siemens-powered Magnus e-Fusion from the Czech Republic, the electric Phoenix motorglider, and Stuttgart University’s e-Genius all flew formation with a Piper L-4, a World War Two …

Equator P2 Makes First Taxi Test

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Designing and building your own airplane is a chore most people will never accomplish.  It’s harder than it looks.  All the people your editor knows who have accomplished this, even “just” the building part, talk about the 90-percent rule: 90-percent done – 90-percent to go. Getting the Nose Gear to Steer Tomas Brodreskift of Equator Aircraft is probably at the 95-percent stage of aircraft completion on his hybrid P2 amphibian, but he and his team still need to drill new holes, make new fittings, laminate some additional pieces and finally get a nose-gear steering system in place.  Since his airplane doesn’t have a set of rudder pedals, steering is controlled by pushing on switches on an orange handgrip in the …

Elytron Changes Names, Forms, Becomes Converticopter

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Oliver Garrow has been pursuing the dream of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flight for a decade, starting long before it became the currently fashionable ideal for “flying car” enthusiasts.  He sold a little over 1,000 simulation packages to enthusiasts, who could “fly” variants of the Verticopter™ ranging from three to 65 feet in span.  At the same time in 2010, Garrow was testing large radio-controlled models of the concept at NASA Ames, Moffett Field, California. The craft’s configuration changed considerably as Oliver refined his concept, with a full-scale prototype displayed at the HAI (Helicopter Association International) Helicopter Expo in Orlando, Florida in 2015.  The company and vehicle names changed to VTOL Aerospace and Converticopter™. Later, Garrow’s team tested the …