Things are Looking up in Dubai

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Clean Technica recently examined whether the United Arab Emirates, and especially Dubai could become a world leader in clean mobility. It lists factors such as one of the heaviest concentrations of concentration of EV charging facilities in the world, and the sizable discounts the state gives on EV ownership. The state’s relationship with electric car suppliers and readiness to test sky taxis from eHang and Volocopter add to the mix.  Dubai has its homegrown flight vehicles that will add to the aerial circus in its desert skies. DGWorld, a major source of robotics in the country, has two such craft on the horizon. DG World’s Contribution The smaller of the two, the “flagship drone of DGWorld,” the UAD M20 has …

Simulations May Stimulate Better Hybrids

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Phillip Ansell, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois explains the benefits and downsides of fossil fuels. “Jet fuel and aviation gasoline are easy to store on an airplane. They are compact and lightweight when compared to the amount of energy they provide. Unfortunately, the actual combustion process is very inefficient. We’re harnessing only a small fraction of that energy but we currently don’t have electrical storage systems that can compete with that.” Ansell and colleagues are striving to use simulations to increase the range of hybrid aircraft.     Batteries provide their own set of problems. He explains that adding more batteries to go farther may have a certain logic, for …

Volocopters to Fly Doctors

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis Leave a Comment

Helena Treeck of Volocopter alerted your editor of an exciting development for the multicopter manufacturer.  ADAC Luftrettung (ADAC Air Rescue) wants to use volocopter’s capabilities to take doctors or other qualified medical personnel to points of need – and rapidly.  ADAC’s slogan, “Against time and for life,” sums their mission, and Volocopters seem apt choices to help fulfill it. Rotary-wing aircraft have a well-established reputation for rescues in treacherous locales and circumstances.  An outstanding job of flying earlier this year on Mt. Hood, Oregon highlights this. Electric vertical take off and landing craft may be even better at this than fossil-fuel powered ones.  They don’t run out of oxygen at altitude – the rescue on Mt. Hood took place near …

David Ullman Receives Patent on IDEAL Airplane

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

David Ullman a Professor Emeritus at Oregon State University, has used his expertise in mechanical engineering to design his IDEAL airplane.  That stands for Integrated Distributed Electric-Augmented Lift, and like all good projects with good acronyms, almost explains itself.  Recently, the U. S Patent office thought the IDEAL is worthy of being patented. It might be helpful to read the full patent, filed with working partner and neighbor Vincent Homer, because the ideal looks simple, but has years of development behind it.  The two live in Independence, Oregon, on an airport that includes hangars on every house and taxiways linking them to the main runway.  Both their hangars are filled with evidence of their skilled handiwork.  Vincent’s houses giant models …

MIT’s Ionic Flyer – Solid State All the Way

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

This week, a kerfuffle tsunami has swept through the aeronautical press, with the announcement by Steven Barret of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that he has flown an ion-powered airplane that “doesn’t depend on fossil fuels or batteries.”*  (A minor point – the airplane does have a battery that gets its output voltage ramped up by a custom power supply.) Five years ago, your editor reported on ionic thrusters, several of which were being tested by Barrett, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics. These little devices have great promise for moving vehicles in space, where the vacuum presents no aerodynamic drag to overcome. Even a small nudge from a thruster in space will cause a vehicle to accelerate. They …

Aurora’s Odysseus – Large Enough for Its Mythic Name

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Named for a mythical hero like its evolutionary predecessors, Aurora Flight Science’s Odysseus is a huge, but ephemeral thing. A wingspan larger than the largest 747’s and a weight no greater than a Smart Car’s (around 1,500 pounds) means this airplane will be slow and frail.  A carbon fiber tube structure covered by lightweight Tedlar™ resembles the construction of Solar Impulse, but without the bulk of carrying a pilot. Since its antecedent was the world record holding distance champion in human-powered aircraft, the manner of flight is no surprise.  Its intended altitude is.  Odysseus takes it to the stratosphere. It’s the latest revelation in a thirty-year exploration of low-powered, extreme-endurance aircraft.  Before he founded Aurora, John Langford led a group of …

Fred To Receives a Well-Deserved Award

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

Fred To (pronounced Toe) lives in England and was one of a small group who built and flew the world’s first solar-powered airplane in December 1978. They flew just a few months before Larry Mauro lofted his solar-riser in April 1979. Both airplanes were limited by the technology of the day, lithium-ion batteries still over a decade away, and the best solar cells achieving less than five-percent efficiency. Fred wrote to tell your editor of the award. “I was in Montreux Switzerland a few weeks ago, and on the 22nd of October I received an award from prince Albert II of Monaco for Solar One, which is now formally accepted as the first solar powered aircraft to fly. It was …

The Diamond/Siemens Hybrid Test Bed

Dean Sigler Batteries, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

One should follow Dr. Frank Anton’s Twitter account – or at least check it occasionally.  Dr. Anton is head of Siemen’s Electric Aviation Division and posts new developments regularly.  Siemens is supplying motors to Diamond Aircraft’s prototype hybrid, a tidy tri-motor if you count the engine/generator in the nose of the formerly single-engine airplane. Partnered with Austria’s Diamond Aircraft Industries GmbH, Siemens motors powered an adaptation of their DA40 four-seat airplane.  A Diesel engine/generator in the nose of the formerly single-engine machine charges two 12-kilowatt batteries behind the passenger compartment and provides power to the two Siemens motors on the canard.  The whole thing looks a bit like a large economy-size Cri-Cri. Started in 2013, the project is under the …

Richard Glassock, Jeff Zaltman and Air Race E

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Richard Glassock and Beacons of Excellence Richard Glassock is an Australian scholar and designer currently living in Nottingham, England, working as a Professor at the University of Nottingnam.  One if the founding lights in the Outback Joe competions, in which teams launched autonomuous aircraft into remote parts of Australia to find the eponymous character and deliver aid, he was on the forefront of things to come. Later, he designed a twin-motored sailplane to take parties of six or eight to cloudbase, a perfect outing for kid’s parties or adult’s anniversary celebrations.  He was part of a team that designed a modern hybrid parachute jump plane, optimized for rapid turnarounds.  His motorcycle range extender would enable a pilot to ride to …

Terrafugia’s TF-2

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Terrafugia, unabashedly calling its vehicles “flying cars” in many of its public pronouncements, has floated a concept that is a serious departure from their two previous designs.  The TF-2 will be the equivalent of a shuttle bus, but with an aerial means of making a longer haul than mere in-town hops. Started by MIT graduates, many of them members of the rocketry club, Terrafugia has managed to garner an enormous number of media hits.  It even became a possible Christmas gift in the 2010 Hammacher Schlemmer Christmas catalog. It flew its Transition before the crowds at AirVenture in 2013, and was able to obtain certification as a Light Sport Aircraft since then, but with a slightly higher than original LSA …