Amazon PrimeAir FAA Approved

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St. Paul gave us the idea that there are several heavens, a layered set of spiritual levels increasingly sublime with altitude.  That’s why there’s a “seventh heaven” of love, tranquility and bliss.  Then there are earthly regulations to consider. The FAA’s approval meets with Amazon’s approval.  “We’re excited about Prime Air — a future delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones. Prime Air has great potential to enhance the services we already provide to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery that will also increase the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system.” Such services will be limited to the range available …

DOE Promotes Carbon Neutrality Aeronautically

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Both GreenCarCongress.com and CleanTechnica share information about the Department of Energy’s funding of 17 projects in two Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) categories.  Prepare for the inevitable rush of acronyms.  All the projects seem to be reserved for applications on single-aisle short- and intermediate-range airliners, with emphasis on economy of operation, carbon neutrality and lowest possible emissions. ASCEND Powertrain related, ASCEND (Aviation-class Synergistically Cooled Electric-motors with iNtegrated Drives) will fund nine projects with $14.5 in Phase 1 money.  Funds will help recipients, “Work to develop innovative, lightweight, and ultra-efficient all-electric powertrain with advanced thermal management systems that help enable efficient net-zero carbon emissions for single-aisle passenger commercial aircraft.” Raytheon Technologies Research Center has three projects in two ARPA-E categories, …

Oxis Batteries to Fly in Two Airplanes

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While we wait yet another five years for commercial development of each newly announced but promising battery chemistry, one company has its cells ready to fly in Bye Aerospace’s eFlyer 2 and in Texas Aircraft’s Colt S-LSA.  Oxis Energy has managed to leapfrog lithium-ion makers with its lithium-sulfur battery packs packing 400 Watt-hours per kilogram.  Considering the best announced pack-level li-ion performance has been 260 W-hr/kg, the leap is significant. Batteries, for now, are at the heart of electric aircraft.  Until Doc Brown’s Flux Capacitor or a hydrogen fuel cell with Dollar Tree refills comes along, batteries are battling it out for our airborne dollars.  Lithium-ion remains in the forefront, with Tesla staging its shareholders’ meeting and its long-anticipated “Battery …

Electrifly-In: A Big Show in a Small Space

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For those of us who find trudging over miles of airfield, such as Oshkosh’s AirVenture, or even local fly-ins spread along a runway tiring, Grenchen, Switzerland’s Electrifly-In may be welcome relief.  The event, previously called the Smartflyer Challenge, is planned for September 12 and 13 and should draw electric aircraft from all over Europe. Grenchen, a town of just over 2,000, has an airport with a single runway of only 865 meters (2,838 feet), enough to enable a Cessna Citation CJ3 to land (and presumably depart).  The runway will host this year’s newly re-named Electrifly-In, devoted to promoting electric aviation.  All the activities will be held in a small, easily-accessible area. All Electric Aircraft – All Day A baker’s dozen …

Two New Electric Sailplanes

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Two electric sailplanes come from different ends of the soaring spectrum and each shows its own unique character.  Their differences are as noteworthy as their geographic separation. Birdy Birdy is a single-seat, electrically powered motor glider that fits the European Union 120 kilogram class.  The 264-pound empty weight puts it 10 pounds above America’s FAA Part 103 254-pound limit.  But Euro craft in that category are not as limited in top or cruise speed. Birdy’s light weight required clever arrangement of components to enable a maximum takeoff weight of 280 kilograms (616 pounds) and pilots up to 1.95 meters (6’ 5”) tall.  Its 13.5-meter (44.29-foot) wingspan carries only 13.9 pounds per foot, enabling 40:1 glide ratio at around 90 kilometers …

Regenerative Gas Turbines for Hybrid Aircraft

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

Beth Stanton shared an email she received from Alex Kovnat, EAA #452346, telling of Turbotech S. A. S., “A startup company” making very efficient gas turbines.  Turbotech “has patented a regenerative, high-temperature heat exchanger that increases the efficiency of low power turbines by a factor of 2–3. They achieved this by recycling what would normally be waste heat in the exhaust gases to preheat the air entering the combustor, resulting in less fuel required to generate the same amount of power. Turbotech views the turbogenerator as the ‘missing link”’ that will enable the future of hybrid-electric aeronautical propulsion.” This regenerative ability reduces the amount of fossil fuel required to make things work – a valuable criterion while we await better …

Switzerland to the North Sea – Flying Electrically

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We’re still early in attempts to set world records with electric airplanes.  Jean-Luc Soullier, a friend of the blog, held many of them a decade ago, flying a little Colomban MC-30, an ultralight designed by one of Concorde’s engineers.  At the other end of the size scale, Solar Impulse set many records on its globe-girdling treks.  Now, a five-member mostly German team hopes to set seven world records “in one fell swoop” as they electrically traverse 700 kilometers (435 miles) between the Schanis, Switzerland airport and Norderney Airport on Germany’s North Sea. Friends of Electric Mobility The five have interesting professional lives beyond their love of flight.  “Futurologist Morell Westermann, Swiss pilot Marco Buholzer, the Norderneyer brewer Tobi Pape, the …

SolarStratos Returns to Service

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SolarStratos, a mission envisioned by Raphaël  Domjan and an airplane designed by Calin Gologan,  returns to the skies after suffering a literal break in its program in 2018. During a series of tests that put increasingly heavy loads on the wings, its left wing broke with what was called a “technical damage.”  This type of breakage during stress testing is not uncommon, especially on what are special machines such as SolarStratos and Solar Impulse.  Solar Impulse 2 suffered a similar break when its newly-designed wing was being tested.  As noted, this type of setback takes the team back to the drawing board, but also besets them with new reflections on their ongoing decisions.  If it were easy, everyone would be …

Electric Aviation Group Goes Big

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Emulating bird flight has been a big part of man’s desire to fly through the years.  The latest in ornithological look-alikes comes from the Electric Aviation Group in the United Kingdom.  Their creation seem to be an outgrowth of last year’s somewhat controversial Bird of Prey concept displayed by Airbus at several prominent airshows. Designed to have a “certain ‘Wow’ factor,” the model took its cues from hawks and eagles, including a high-arched wing blended into the upper fuselage.  It featured wingtips much like a bird’s, with primary feathers ostensible capable of morphing to control banking and even adverse yaw in a turn. Even its patriotic tail feathers were indeed feather-like and added to the avian quality of the aircraft. …

HyPoint and Hydrogen Flight

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Their web site proclaims, “HyPoint, Inc. is developing the next generation hydrogen fuel cell system with zero CO2 emissions and game-changing energy performance for the air transportation and urban air mobility market.”  Pointing out a “fundamental barrier at a chemistry level” for lithium-ion batteries, the fuel cell maker launches some seemingly outrageous claims. HyPoint states, “Our patented technology increases operational time and utilization rate while decreasing TCO (total cost of operation) of any flying platform.”  They claim “5X operational time, 10X utilization rate, 20X faster charge,” and a TCO 90 percent of equivalent battery-powered systems. As we have reported here, demonstrated outputs for lithium-ion cells are around 350 Watt-hours per kilogram, and about 260 Whr/kg at the pack level.  HyPoint says it can already demonstrate a system-level …