Rolls-Royce Rolls a Few New Approaches

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

Rolls-Royce, famous for building engines such as the WWII Merlin that powered Spitfires, Mustangs, Mosquitos and Lancaster bombers, is engaged on three (or four) fronts currently, bringing hybrid electric transport to the skies. Hybrid Electric VTOL for Commuting Rolls is jumping into this crowded market segment with its concept for an electric VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) machine, powered by four electric motors on the wings and two on the tail.   With over 100 machines of varying configurations that might be the Uber rides of the future – according to Electric VTOL News, Rolls, normally a conservative company, is planning something a bit radical – even in this field. Rolls’ headline for this craft indicates a new direction for the …

Peter Sripol Groundloops – But Check Out Those Motors!

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Peter Sripol is a high-energy model-airplane tester who put a twin-motor electric biplane together out of Home Depot/Lowes parts and flew it successfully.  That was a back of the envelope design that flew nonetheless. Peter did something a little more professional for his second go-round, crafting some professional-looking drawings.  Don’t look for any drawings for the earlier machine, he cautions, explaining there are none  He also wanted a pair of larger, slower turning propellers to move a large volume of air more slowly than the Rotomax 150s installed on the biplane.  He notes he’s looking for a lower kV (turns per Volt input). Peter works with Flite Test, a model airplane outfit seemingly willing to try anything.  That includes the …

Just for Openers – BlackFly

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A Seven-Year Stealth Project Opener doesn’t sound like the name of an airplane company, and BlackFly doesn’t sound like a very charming name for an airplane.  Maybe that’s how the developers of an eight-motor personal flying machine got away with it for so long. Beth Stanton, who writes wonderful articles about futuristic projects for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Sport Aviation magazine, alerted your editor about a project that sneaked under the radar for the past seven years. The airplane looks a bit like a single-seat Vahana, Airbus’s two-seat air taxi currently under test in eastern Oregon.  Where Vahana is just beginning flight tests, BlackFly has over 12,000 aerial miles carrying a payload in 1,400 flights.  BlackFly has gone through 40,000 …

Equator P2 Makes First Runway Hops

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

The Culmination of Eight Years’ Effort Tomas Brødreskift, his father and a dedicated team of volunteers have been working on a nearly no-budget, eight-year project to build a cutting-edge technology hybrid amphibian aircraft.  This past week, Equator P2’s wheels left the runway, twice on each of two days.  The team plans a full flight around the airport traffic pattern in the next few days. Although brief, the runway runs demonstrated the hand control’s proper operation, similar to the hands-only controls used on human-powered aircraft.  In that instance, the pilot’s legs are busy pedaling, obviating the need for manual operation only. In the Equator’s case, Tomas wanted simplified controls to make his aircraft a more desirable machine for future buyers.  He is, …

NASA Freely Shares X57 Lessons

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

NASA and several partner firms have been working on the X-57 Maxwell electric propulsion demonstrator for the past several years.  It hasn’t been as easy as it looked at first.  Encouragingly, NASA is sharing some of the hard lessons it has learned in the process, much like Elon Musk sharing many of his patents with the world. One of the hardest lessons involved the multiple battery packs, originally planned to be off-the-shelf units.  A December 2016 test resulted in a thermal runaway, a situation in which one cell that overheats can self-destruct and cause adjacent cells to follow suit.  This, as we’ve seen in Dreamliner incidents, can be dangerous and potentially deadly.  Such fires are exceedingly well reported, with any Tesla …

Three June Races Electrified

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

Every June, three races provide insight into how much electric power has become a regular part of motorsports: The Isle of Man TT Zero motorcycle race, the 24 Hours of LeMans, and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.  This year, there were disappointments as well as triumphs, but progress nonetheless. Isle of Man TT Zero For followers of electric two-wheeling, this year’s Tourist Trophy (TT) Zero had one high moment, a record-setting run by Michael Rutter on a Team Mugen bike, which did one lap at 121.824 mph (18:34.956 for the 37.75 mile course).  Admittedly, because of the relatively low energy density of batteries to petrol, the electric bikes do a single lap compared to the six laps on the …

GoFly Announces First Round Prize Winners

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

Boeing just announced the ten winners of Phase I in its GoFly competition, in which entrants design, build and fly a “personal flying device.”  As Boeing explains, contest rules are designed to enable entrants “To foster the development of safe, quiet, ultra-compact, near-VTOL personal flying devices capable of flying twenty miles while carrying a single person.”  The list of partners and co-sponsors is impressive and includes virtually all major American aviation advocacy groups. As the Green Flight Challenge demonstrated seven years ago, prize money encourages a grand series of investments by individuals in hopes of winning a prize.  In this case, 3,000 entries by 725 teams from 95 countries presented drawings and documents describing their proposed PFD, with a select …

Kitty Hawk Flyer Shows Improvements, Limits Continue

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

Kitty Hawk Flyer, the Larry Page-backed “sky taxi,” seems like a great summer escape machine. One can learn to fly it in about an hour, but it will remain low and slow enough to give the thrill of flight without inordinate dangers.  That’s the marketing pitch from Kitty Hawk, and it’s not a bad one.  Imagine going to a beach or lake with dozens of these fluttering about over the water’s surface.  It’s the same kind of lure driving go-karts on a miniature race course has for vacationers. Safety is obviously a factor for a machine meant for amateur use.  John Lyon explains this in the Robb Report: “The zero-emissions Flyer is completely powered by electricity, and its propellers all …

Sun Flyer 2 to be Powered by Siemens Motor

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

George Bye has been enjoying a year filled with great expectations (and accomplishments).  With 121 deposits on the Bye Aerospace Sun Flyer 2 from seven countries, the training aircraft needs only two things to make dreams come true for a large number of people – a motor and FAA certification. Siemens Steps In In a joint press release, Bye, CEO of Bye Aerospace, announced a partnership with Siemens that will see the German firm “collaborate on future development of Bye Aerospace’s Sun Flyer 2.” Bye explained, “We are pleased to announce an agreement with Siemens to provide the electric propulsion motor and inverter for the Sun Flyer program.  They will be an active partner through the FAA certification and production …

Sustainable Skies in San Francisco – the Sequel

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

Getting personal once more, this entry highlights my adventures at the 2018 Sustainable Aviation Symposium as reported in the first person. The Sustainable Aviation Symposium for 2018 began its Saturday session with J. Philip Barnes, the Senior Technical Fellow at Pelican Aero Group, who expanded an idea he has been developing for several years – that of flying on energy generated and stored by a self-launching sailplane’s motion through the air.  With both a single-seat Coulomb Keeper and larger Faraday First model to analyze, Phil turns to seminal works by Glauert and MacCready to create a motor/generator coupled with a propulsion fan that doubles as a propeller and windmill.  Clever use of switching in the control circuitry should enable high-efficiency …