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 …

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, …

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 …

2017 Green Speed Cup – Airplanes More Frugal Than Priuses

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

The Green Speed Cup, held every year except for 2016 since 2011, is measure of an airplane’s efficiency, using a formula from the competition’s web site.  “The scoring will be very simple. The aircraft that flew with the best ratio of fuel-consumption per distance and speed will win the competition. The scoring of each competitor will be related to the winner. The winner gets 1000 points for one day.” According to Robert Adam, one of the organizers of the Cup, “We had a fantastic Green Speed Cup (and rightfully but reasonably prods your editor for not covering the results sooner.)  Luka Znidarsic from LZ Design won with his “front electric sustainer” Ventus glider. He had to close the gap between battery …

What We’re Looking Forward to at AirVenture 2017

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

We’re looking forward to seeing progress in electric aircraft, and this year may be an opportunity to see real breakthroughs. Two from Pipistrel Besides its regular lineup of high-quality aircraft, Pipistel will have two Alpha Electro trainers on display in their display area.  This is the first time these aircraft will be seen in America, and they’ll be at the right of AirVenture’s main entrance gate in sites 86 and 87. In the Ultralight Area Mark Beierle will display and fly Bravo, Richard Steeves’ e-Gull.  This red, white and blue gem features a power system made from Zero Motorcycle components and boasts an impressive rate of climb and exceptional short field capabilities. Another ultralight, the EMG-6 developed over the last …

Zunum Designs Electric Power Trains with a Software Approach

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

Zunum is a startup electric airliner firm, helmed by former leaders in aerospace, electronics and software companies.  It’s no surprise, then, to see their design and manufacturing efforts following a path that blends those disciplines. Aviation Week reports Zunum just received an $800,000 matching grant from Washington State’s Clean Energy Fund, “its size proportionate to funding already raised from Boeing HorizonX and JetBlue Technology Ventures.”  It’s also the second largest of five such awards.  Zunum CEO Ashish Kumar describes the grant as, “a significant amount, a significant endorsement and a significant investment at a national level in electric aviation” that “supplements funds from out-of-state sources and will go toward prototype building.” Zunum presses forward on an aggressive schedule, with plans to certify its …

Geely Looks Skyward, Buys Terrafugia

Dean Sigler Batteries, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Geely is a huge enterprise, and while not the largest maker of electric cars in China, sold 766,000 gas and electric vehicles in 2016, growing 50 percent over the previous year.  Its profits grew 126 percent last year, primarily due to sports utility vehicle (SUV) sales.  As EV Obsession reports: “The 351,861 electric car sales registered in China during 2016 represent approximately 46% of ALL plug-ins sold worldwide this year, with Chinese carmakers responsible for 43% of all EV production in 2016.” Geely, surprisingly, owns Lotus, Malaysia’s Proton Motors, the firm that makes London’s iconic taxis, and Volvo.  Volvo just announced that all its cars will be electric or hybrid starting in 2019.  Fortune reports that the company has become highly …