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 …

Toyota, BMW Fahrting Around with Clean Energy

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Fahrt is German for drive, to clear things up immediately.  Both Toyota and BMW are experimenting with the cruder form of the word, though, to bring about greener, cleaner driving.  Both have bio-energy plans that use animal and even human waste to generate methane – a greenhouse gas that when burnt, combats air pollution.  Variations on the theme may someday power our aircraft. Harold Bate and a Little Prehistory This is not a new idea.  Harold Bate, a Devonshire farmer, became a counter-culture hero in the 1970s by powering his Hillman Minx sedan with manure.  Like all visionaries, Harold was a bit ahead of his time, but became well known and envied when the Arab oil embargo of that decade …

Verdego Aero – Another Variant on VTOL Travel

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

A Controversy for Starters Skeptics abound concerning the current spate of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) machines.  The latest entry in the competition comes from the trio of Erik Lindbergh, Eric Bartsch, and Pat Anderson of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  Their Verdego eight-rotor machine looks a bit like the Airbus A3 Vahana, but has pusher, rather than puller, propellers on the rear wing. On his Linked In page, Bartsch jumps into an ongoing fray with his article, “The Inevitability of Short-Range Urban Aviation – Why I’m Betting Against the “Flying Uber” Skeptics.” It takes aim at the opposing point of view in “Going Direct: On the Insanity of Flying Ubers,” by Plane & Pilot writer Robert Goyer.  To shorten the two …

Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Siemens Team Up on Hybrid Airliner

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

As many of your editor’s friends know, he is often lured to trolling the tabloids, looking for juicy bits about the royal family or Hollywood royalty.  Recently, while perusing the Daily Mail* for news of the upcoming Harry/Meaghan nuptials, he came across the big-headline news that three European power players – Rolls-Royce, Airbus, and Siemens, are collaborating on creating a testbed for a hybrid power system. The trio will take a Bae 146 four-engine regional jet, convert it to a hybrid demonstrator by 2020, and have a production plane in place by 2030.  The high-wing airplane has four turbofans in place now, but the partners will replace one with a Siemens two-megawatt electric motor powered by a Rolls-Royce two-megawatt generator …

Mike Friend Talks Hybrids in Beijing

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

Mike Friend spent 36 years with Boeing, rising to positions as Chief Engineer and Technology Director.  His technical and linguistics abilities helped make him a world traveler, creating the first fuel-cell powered airplane in Spain, for instance, in 2002 through 2008, when the demonstrator craft first flew.  That was the first of many hybrid designs Mike would work on, with samples of his work on display this month in Beijing.  At the E-Flight Forum, sponsored by Siemens, he held forth on single-, two-, and five-seat configurations that could benefit from hybrid power. His talk, “Hybrid electric aircraft concepts, and a rational approach to success,” explained his reasoning for being enthusiastic about hybrids and showed different ways hybrid technology could be …

Ampaire and its Zero Emission Airplane

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

Ampaire, a California-based startup, has a simple, two-fold set of goals.  Its TailWind™ aircraft will solve the problems of high operating costs for short-haul airlines and reduce emissions by 99 percent.  They must make a compelling argument since they won one of ten awards at the recent the 2017 Hello Tomorrow Global Summit Deep Tech Challenge in Paris.   Kevin Noertke, CEO of the firm, presented a brief but energetic rundown on the company’s goals and the elegant aeronautical offering he and co-founders Cory Combs (CTO) and Ryan Bilton (CFO) envision.  Note the crowd, the band, and the high production values of the Summit. Your editor wondered about the “Powered By” reference to Airbus.  Kevin cleared that up in an …

e-Genius Gets Around Quickly, Inspires Others

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Birds of the Same Tail Feather Configuration Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Rudolf Voit-Nitschmann (emeritus) had a lot to do with designing the 1996 Icare II solar-powered sailplane and the 2011 e-Genius.  Icare II set several world records in its 20 years, most under the guidance of pilot Klaus Ohlmann.  e-Genius won the award for being the quietest airplane at the Green Flight Challenge held in Santa Rosa, California, and was a close second to Pipistrel’s G4 in passenger miles per gallon (equivalent) energy use. Dipl.-Ing. Voit-Nitschmann was kind enough to explain to your editor how the propeller center came to be at the top of the tail on e-Genius.  It’s a similar configuration to that on the Icare II*, and one he …

Doing More with Less – BLI on a Big Scale

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

Hybrid and electric cars sell because they lower operating costs for the owner.  Designers and manufacturers sort out ways to increase efficiency, including streamlining, using low-rolling-resistance tires, and making structures lighter.  An added technology, boundary layer ingestion (BLI) may add to aircraft efficiency. NASA and industry leaders are working on equivalent solutions for aircraft, and airplanes will end up as different from today’s designs as Toyota Priuses and BMW i3s are from Ford Falcons or Chevrolet Corvettes.  NASA proclaims, “An aviation renaissance, one focused on energy efficiency and economic impact, is on the horizon, and it’s changing how engineers look at aircraft power and design.” Jim Heidmann, a manager of NASA’s Advanced Air Transport Technology Project (AATT), says, “I feel we …

109.5 minutes of Mad Creativity – Ending with an Electric Biplane

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

Peter Sripol is part of FliteTest, a group that sells electric model aircraft and components and produces some wild and wooly YouTube videos of their exploits.  The group’s products are mostly budget items, with simple aircraft quickly constructed the norm.  One example, the Simple Solar radio-controlled plane, can be built for under $60, and flies on two coreless motors.  Flite Test has quick build kits and FPV (First Person View) radio systems that allow a pilot to view, through an on-board camera, what a (really tiny) person on board the model would see.  This level of miniaturization and commodity-level pricing allows FliteTest to provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) kits to schools at the grade and high-school levels. MTV …

UAVs Push Endurance Limits

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Three unpiloted aerial vehicles of wildly different configurations recently set endurance marks, each a “personal best,” with some achieving world records.  The varying designs show what can be achieved by careful aerodynamic design and efficient powerplants. Aerovel Flexrotor Sets VTOL Endurance Mark Not just a fair weather UAV, Aerovel’s unmanned Flexrotor, named for the sea nymph Actaea, “lifted off into a grey and rainy morning with 7.5 kilograms (16.5 pounds) of fuel onboard”.  According to the company, “It transitioned from hover to wing-borne flight, and soldiered on through a showery day, a blustery night, and then another day in the breezy and unsettled air behind a cold front. As dusk fell it transitioned back to hover, and dropped gently down onto …