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 …

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 …

Sustainable Skies in San Francisco

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Hybrid Aircraft, SAS, Sky Taxis, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

I’m writing this in the first person, rather than the usual third-person voice that allows me to remain objective about things on which I report.  In this case, I have been the recipient of much joy over the last ten years from being an observer of the ongoing progress in electric aviation. Dr. Brien Seeley, founder of the Sustainable Aviation Foundation, asked me to begin writing a blog about electric aviation in 2009.  One of my original postings concerned a Kitplanes Magazine contributor, David Ullman – who was this year’s Sustainable Aviation Symposium’s keynote speaker.  In 2009, he predicted a great future for electric aviation – most of which has come to pass, and some of which he is creating …

Referencing Uber’s Elevated Challenge

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

We can tell things are heating up in the electric aircraft marketplace.  Established aircraft companies are investing (Boeing and Airbus for starters), growing numbers are planning for electrified and autonomous future flight (Uber Elevate Summit), and an absolute plethora of new designs are tumbling forth from an aeronautical cornucopia.  Their video of an Uber sky taxi ride illustrates the charm of the idea. A Common Reference Uber provided two common reference eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) reference models for partners to emulate.  Both seem to share a common passenger pod with an unusually long tail boom. Perhaps taking the 2011 Green Flight Challenge as his reference point, Mark Moore explained how Uber inspires others to give their best efforts …

Pipistrel’s Tine Tomazic Tours West Coast for eVTOL

Dean Sigler Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Visiting Los Angeles for UBER’s second Annual Elevate Summit on May 8, Tine Tomazic and Igor Perkon presented Pipistrel’s new electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) concept.  As described in their press release, Pipistrel’s new design “utilizes dedicated propulsion systems for both cruising and vertical lift and embraces an aircraft styled family approach of eVTOL able to carry between 2 to 6 passengers.” Mark Moore, UBER’s Director of Engineering, attempted to find out about the “sauce” that helps make Pipistrel’s eVTOL concept unique, but was deflected by Tine’s response that the “airplane” (important distinction) would be a “cruise plus lift” machine, emphasizing speed of transit, but relying on electric power to provide vertical lift.  He also noted that propulsion would …

Swiss Movements – aEro 1 and aEro 2

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

Electric Flying Inspires Bigger Plans Dufour Aerospace, based in Visp, Switzerland, and within sight of the Matterhorn, has been flying aEro 1, a Silence Twister-based electric aerobatic craft, for the last two years.  Read the pilot report on the surprising performance and the quiet flight experience in the aEro 1 to get some idea of how future flight will be a welcome relief from the noisy today’s noisy passage.  “Electric motors are so incredibly efficient. They have a huge torque and you will take off much faster than with regular engines. Our aEro 1 takes off after 70 meters of runway – at 2/3 of the available power. “The first real takeoff and flight afterwards was really mindblowing. I set …

Zee?  Kitty Hawk? Cora?

Dean Sigler Announcements, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Different Names, Different Configurations Zee, One of two aircraft companies funded by Google founder and CEO Larry Page, has been a highly mysterious business.  Its web pages mostly gave discrete job descriptions for those willing to sign up for a mostly undefined mission.  Occasional glimpses of patent drawings, spy shots of a multi-rotor craft in Google’s Mountain View, California parking lot came into view, and later, in-flight shots of other, different looking craft came from Hollister, California. Kitty Hawk, the other company funded by Larry Page, seems to have subsumed Zee and produced a 12-rotor, single-propeller aerial taxi about the size of a Cessna 150, but capable of vertical takeoffs and landings and seamless transitions to forward flight.  A white …

Starling Jet Comes in Three Sizes

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

 The Starling Jet now joins electric or hybrid flying commuter craft from sources all over the world. A Middle-East backed, London-based project, the Starling Jet is swoopy and high-winged, and comes in three sizes with different missions. The Commuter Craft Trifecta Time, a most precious commodity, is the major selling point for most of these sky taxis.  Saving an executive’s schedule enhances productivity, whether it’s whisking a CEO over the traffic jams in Dallas or Dubai.  For many similar machines, the impetus is to democratize the flight experience, offering many an Uber-like experience at Uber-like prices.  Samad Aerospace, creator the Starlings, is looking toward a more exclusive market. All such craft promise the convenience of point-to-point transportation, foregoing intermediate shuttle …

MAGiCALL Motor/Controller Vies for Simplicity, Lightness

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

MAGiCALL, a California-based firm whose slogan, “Innovative Magnetics to Power Your Products,” covers everything from aircraft to medical applications, has introduced a combined MAGiDRIVE™ integrated motor and controller line of products.  These are of particular interest for electric aircraft designers, since the company has been picked to supply motors to the Airbus A3 Vahana project. Whatever else they may accomplish, the many multi-rotor sky taxis will create a demand for a great number of motors, controllers, and battery packs.  16 on every Volocopter, eight to 16 on every Ehang, and eight on every Vahana will promote mass production, perhaps leading to a Model T moment where such technology becomes universally affordable. What Ford did for automobiles, most of the current …