NASA Rethinks X Planes

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

In your editor’s childhood and youth, X Planes were all premised on speed, Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in 1947 in the Bell X-1 when your editor was five years old (do the math).  Movies that filled screens in those days featured test pilots as steely-jawed, fearless protagonists beating back the awesome forces in the sky.  Frequent news stories and breathlessly narrated newsreels, and later television news captured the imagination with items about going higher, faster, and farther. NASA is bringing back the X-plane, but emphasizing quiet, efficient, clean and practical goals.  NASA’s own description of the programs shows a turn toward green aviation in our future.  “Goals include showcasing how airliners can burn half the fuel and generate …

EnergyOr Ups the Ante for Endurance

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized 0 Comments

Staying airborne for more than an hour or two might seem like a huge leap for battery-powered electric aircraft.  Inspired designers like Eric Raymond have been able to use solar cells to extend their flights to near-perpetual states.  A large craft like Solar Impulse 2 remains in flight for up to five successive days and nights only through careful energy management and flight planning.  Researchers are looking at hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative to batteries, with the hopes of achieving greater endurance. One company, EnergyOr, has developed two still small fuel cells to power their rotary- and fixed-wing drones, setting several records in the process.  With payloads and maximum takeoff weights that enable carrying a 4K camera or large …

Aurora Flight Sciences Win DARPA Award for Advanced VTOL

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

Electric Aircraft Symposia attendees will be familiar with presentations by Dr. John S. Langford, Chairman and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, an aeronautical firm continuously redefining the leading edge of aerial technology.  He has shared the firm’s achievements in autonomous flight, with the company’s Centaur, a twin-engine light twin going from takeoff to landing at a distant airport without the need for pilot intervention. With other research projects on solar power, high altitude reconnaissance, and future “double-bubble” wide-body airliners, Aurora apparently showed enough innovative capacity to win an award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for its newest X-Plane, an unpiloted vertical takeoff and landing speedster called Lightning Strike. This Phase 2 award takes from a preliminary design …

A Large Quadplane Version of the Pilatus Porter

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

Richard Glassock, a long-time contributor to the blog, is from Australia, and has lived and worked in Hungary for the last few years.  He’s known to blog readers for his work in autonomous aircraft, very large sailplanes, and hybrid propulsion design. He shares news this week about “some excellent work by an Australian researcher I have known for a while. In one way or another, he is actualizing many of the ideas/dreams I had 20 years ago.”  The craft isVTOL (vertical takeoff and landing), fixed wing, capable of automated flight, and is almost a hybrid (depending on definition). It was developed for the Outback Challenge, originally a chance for aircraft designers to show how their craft could autonomously search for …

Needed: a Four-Seat Light Airplane for Electrifying Research Project

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

We’d all love to have a hybrid electric airplane – inexpensive to fly with great range and guilt-free airport hamburgers. Jeffrey Engler, who heads an innovative project devoted to green aviation, explains: “Our plan is to convert a Piper Cherokee, Cessna 172, or similar light four-seater to electric hybrid power.  The airplane should be airworthy with a serviceable engine and avionics.  We don’t want a hangar queen or an airport relic – just a flyable, reasonable example at a reasonable price.” Aeronautics students at Purdue University, as part of their graduate work, are backing this program.  Jeffrey reports, “The rock stars at Purdue presented their first interim report yesterday, including a background on electric aviation and their initial evaluation of the Cherokee retrofit.  It’s …

Pipistrel Rolls Out Hypstair Hybrid for Run-up

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Pipistrel took the wraps off its latest iteration of what was originally called the Panthera, the hybrid variant of which has been renamed the HYPSTAIR, a pun that fails to diminish the significance of the achievement. Pipistrel clams the most powerful aerial hybrid electric power train, powering it up on February 9 and making a mighty, but subdued noise, much of it coming from the specially-designed, five-bladed propeller. Putting out 200 kilowatts (268 horsepower) at full throttle, the Siemens motor turned the propeller using first just the generator, and then the motor in low and high power modes. The propulsor (perhaps a new term to consider as hybrid power becomes a common operational type for electric aircraft) produces 100 kW (134 …

Tomas Brødreskift to Appear at SA Symposium

Dean Sigler Announcements, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

With the upcoming Sustainable Aviation Symposium (May 6-7, 2016) already packed with stellar presenters, we are excited to have Tomas Brødreskift join the faculty.  An industrial designer whose skills in product and process design, project management, ergonomics, and visual and CAD design have led and enabled him to bring his amphibious Equator P2 Xcursion to life will share his expertise and experiences with attendees at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay. Tomas’ demonstrated skills in designing everything from Hardrocx mountain bikes to an array of consumer goods have helped prepare him to guide the Xcursion from concept to final product.  Since he has overseen every step of the design/build process, the airplane is a reflection of its unique specification and its …

Fuel Cells for Taxiing

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel 0 Comments

What seemed like an easy transition a few years ago has been delayed by one developer.  “Safran and Honeywell have delayed by two years the planned entry into service of their electric green taxiing system (EGTS), a device designed to enable an airplane to taxi with its engines shut down. Aviation International News (AIN) quoted a spokesperson as saying, “The team is still working on the program with a goal of certification in 2018 and entry into service shortly after.”  The system uses motors on the main gear to enable taxiing under power.  One of several competing systems, WheelTug, has motors on the nose gear only. Wheeltug uses a Boeing 737-800 as a testbed for the certification program. A  United …

Electric Jet Hybrids – Big and Small

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

NASA’s Glenn Research Center reviews the prevalence of fossil fuels in keeping us flying for over a century. “Since the beginning, commercial planes have been powered by carbon-based fuels such as gasoline or kerosene. While these provide the energy to lift large commercial jets into the world’s airspace, electric power is now seen as a new frontier for providing thrust and power for flight.” Noting the use of hybrid and turboelectric power used to increase efficiency in cars, boats and trains, NASA has set a goal “to help the aircraft industry shift from relying solely on gas turbines to using hybrid electric and turboelectric propulsion in order to reduce energy consumption, emissions and noise.” This would require a large shift …

A Solar-Algae Hybrid for an Atlantic Crossing

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

Henri Mignet was never quite able to master an airplane with three-axis controls, and built at least seven flawed attempts at simplified controlled flight. His seminal try, the HM-8 Pou de Ciel (literally, Louse of the Sky, or more familiarly, Flying Flea) became first a matter of celebration for amateur aviators and then a cause of scandal, being banned in Britain following a series of fatal crashes. The “formula”, as proponents called Mignet’s tandem wing configuration, was sorted out after wind tunnel tests in England and America uncovered the flaw that caused the craft to pitch down in an unrecoverable dive. (For a well-illustrated history of Mignet’s design, see Henri Mignet and his Flying Fleas by Ken Ellis and Geoff …