Beta Technologies Testing Actual Prototype

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Kyle Clark heads Beta Technologies, an aircraft company flying under the radar until recently.  Beta’s prototype, based on an RDD LX7, uses eight electric motors driving one fixed-pitch propeller each.  These are mounted on rotating tubular arms that allow vertical takeoffs and landings with the propellers in horizontal orientation and a claimed 170 mph cruise when in vertical orientation. VT Digger, an independent non-profit journal, reports, “Using homemade flight simulators, an array of 3D printers, a machine shop, and a team of nearly 40 staff and contracted engineers, Clark has big plans for his self-funded company, which occupies a hangar and other buildings at the Burlington airport. He intends to stand out for creating an aircraft with a power system …

Bell Nexus Debuts at CES 2019

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This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) had over 4,500 exhibitors, and one major aircraft company showing off its Bell Nexus sky taxi and its Autonomous Pod Transport (APT).  Fast Company reported that three major trends emerged: the thousands of devices that link to “virtual assistants” such as Alexa (28,000 apps), the introduction of a slew of Apple products, and the changes in transportation new technology will bring. Fast Company noted, “This long-term–and wildly futuristic–strategizing was on full display at CES. For starters, the Uber partner Bell showed off a second-stage concept of its flying car that both companies swear they will begin testing in 2020. (This has been on the docket for a while.) A full-scale model on the CES floor promised to …

One on the Ramp, One on the Computer, and one Bent Tube Propulsor

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With over 125 electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft in various stages of design and even flight test, we thought we would check in on three interesting prospects. The Lift Hexa Lift Aircraft of Austin, Texas promotes its 18-rotor single seater as, “THE WORLDS FIRST PERSONAL FLYING EXPERIENCE FOR EVERYONE.”  Looking a great deal like a skinny Volocopter, the Hexa shares many of its design attributes.  It’s “… triply redundant autopilot computer with a single, 3-axis joystick is all that is needed to fly. Or tap on the seven inch touchscreen in “Look mom, no hands!” mode.”  According to the firm’s web site, one can learn to fly Hexa with a few hours on a flight simulator and a brief session of personal instruction. …

Things are Looking up in Dubai

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Clean Technica recently examined whether the United Arab Emirates, and especially Dubai could become a world leader in clean mobility. It lists factors such as one of the heaviest concentrations of concentration of EV charging facilities in the world, and the sizable discounts the state gives on EV ownership. The state’s relationship with electric car suppliers and readiness to test sky taxis from eHang and Volocopter add to the mix.  Dubai has its homegrown flight vehicles that will add to the aerial circus in its desert skies. DGWorld, a major source of robotics in the country, has two such craft on the horizon. DG World’s Contribution The smaller of the two, the “flagship drone of DGWorld,” the UAD M20 has …

Simulations May Stimulate Better Hybrids

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Phillip Ansell, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois explains the benefits and downsides of fossil fuels. “Jet fuel and aviation gasoline are easy to store on an airplane. They are compact and lightweight when compared to the amount of energy they provide. Unfortunately, the actual combustion process is very inefficient. We’re harnessing only a small fraction of that energy but we currently don’t have electrical storage systems that can compete with that.” Ansell and colleagues are striving to use simulations to increase the range of hybrid aircraft.     Batteries provide their own set of problems. He explains that adding more batteries to go farther may have a certain logic, for …

Volocopters to Fly Doctors

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Helena Treeck of Volocopter alerted your editor of an exciting development for the multicopter manufacturer.  ADAC Luftrettung (ADAC Air Rescue) wants to use volocopter’s capabilities to take doctors or other qualified medical personnel to points of need – and rapidly.  ADAC’s slogan, “Against time and for life,” sums their mission, and Volocopters seem apt choices to help fulfill it. Rotary-wing aircraft have a well-established reputation for rescues in treacherous locales and circumstances.  An outstanding job of flying earlier this year on Mt. Hood, Oregon highlights this. Electric vertical take off and landing craft may be even better at this than fossil-fuel powered ones.  They don’t run out of oxygen at altitude – the rescue on Mt. Hood took place near …

David Ullman Receives Patent on IDEAL Airplane

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David Ullman a Professor Emeritus at Oregon State University, has used his expertise in mechanical engineering to design his IDEAL airplane.  That stands for Integrated Distributed Electric-Augmented Lift, and like all good projects with good acronyms, almost explains itself.  Recently, the U. S Patent office thought the IDEAL is worthy of being patented. It might be helpful to read the full patent, filed with working partner and neighbor Vincent Homer, because the ideal looks simple, but has years of development behind it.  The two live in Independence, Oregon, on an airport that includes hangars on every house and taxiways linking them to the main runway.  Both their hangars are filled with evidence of their skilled handiwork.  Vincent’s houses giant models …

Terrafugia’s TF-2

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Terrafugia, unabashedly calling its vehicles “flying cars” in many of its public pronouncements, has floated a concept that is a serious departure from their two previous designs.  The TF-2 will be the equivalent of a shuttle bus, but with an aerial means of making a longer haul than mere in-town hops. Started by MIT graduates, many of them members of the rocketry club, Terrafugia has managed to garner an enormous number of media hits.  It even became a possible Christmas gift in the 2010 Hammacher Schlemmer Christmas catalog. It flew its Transition before the crowds at AirVenture in 2013, and was able to obtain certification as a Light Sport Aircraft since then, but with a slightly higher than original LSA …

Volocopters to Hover Over Singapore

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Helena Treeck from Volocopter sent the following message this morning: “Bruchsal/Paris/Singapore, October 2018 – Volocopter, the pioneer in urban air mobility, announced today during Autonomy – the Summit of Urban Mobility in Paris, that they will perform a next set of inner urban flight tests in Singapore. The series of test that are scheduled to take place in the second half of 2019 are supported by the Ministry of Transport (MOT), Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), and Economic Development Board (EDB).” Already undergoing testing in Germany and Dubai, Volocopter’s 2X appears to be the company’s flagship for continuing development.  The following video (in French) intercuts a representative explaining the benefits of the Volocopter with images of its public flight …

HES Element One Could Fly Four 5,000 Kilometers

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Horizon Energy Systems (HES), originally based in Singapore, has pursued lightweight hydrogen propulsion systems for the last 12 years, primarily for amall drones.  Going larger, the company announced plans today for Element One, “the world’s first regional hydrogen-electric passenger aircraft.” A four-passenger, 14-motored (!) monoplane, Element One will carry the lucky foursome 500 to 5,000 kilometers (310 to 3,100 statute miles).  This distributed power system claims “virtually no change to its current drone-scale systems,” which is a little puzzling, considering the largest of such systems produces no more than 1,000 Watts.  The scale of the Element One and its power packs is ambiguous, with illustrations showing a nine-axle trailer with attached solar panels ostensibly powering the on-site production of H2. …