AirSpaceX is NOT an Elon Musk Company

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

Airspace Experience Technologies, LLC (AirSpaceX) is a subsidiary of Detroit Aircraft Corporation (DAC), and as far as this editor knows, not related to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.  A little closer to earth, the planned low-altitude perambulations of its two creations reflect the growing interest in “sky taxis.” A Holding Company Brought Down by the Great Depression Jon Rimanelli, founder and CEO, sees Detroit Aircraft Corporation as an attempt to return the Motor City to its former glory days as a leader in aircraft development.  He notes that for a few brief years, DAC held controlling interests in the Ryan and Lockheed Aircraft companies, and created the only metal-clad airship in aeronautical history, The ZMC-2.  He explains, “Back in the ’20s, Detroit …

CES 2018 – Intel Inside and Then Some

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

Brian Krzanich, Intel’s CEO, took a ride in the Volocopter 2X, becoming the first human passenger on an autonomous flight of the vehicle.  The ride took place in a large enclosed space somewhere in Munich, Germany, on December 3, 2017. An Historical Sidebar It looks a little like Hanna Reitsch’s helicopter flight under the roof of the Deutschlandhalle in Berlin in 1938, a feat she repeated daily during the three-week International Automobile Exhibition.  She later test flew an early V-1 “Buzz Bomb,” her small size adaptable to the craft.  Volocopter’s 2X requires far fewer flying skills, CEO Florian Reuter claiming a five-year-old can control the 2X. Not a Flying Car Sean O’Kane, enthusiastically reporting on the 2X for The Verge, …

Too Late for Boxing Day*, Ehang Delivers the Goods

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

Broadcast live on December 24, this demonstration of the eHang 184 is, interestingly, an English-language presentation, with a lot of English names floating about. Someone named Mike shows off the Ehang 184 in this Christmas-related special.  His friend Miranda snugs herself into the compact passenger compartment, tries on the safety harnesses, and deplanes before committing aviation.  The video is a sales pitch for the drone manufacturer – actually more of a long wind-up before a pitch into the air.  Mike takes us through a tutorial on the craft, which seats one passenger and has eight propellers that are mounted on four arms (one-eight-four, or 184). The rather ungainly entrance and exit of the petite young woman suggests possible improvements eHang’s designers …

Hoversurf and OTSAW Patrol the Skies of Dubai

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

Hoversurf’s recent announcement of its use by Dubai police to patrol the streets and skies of the capital city brings forth several questions.  With Dubai and other Emirates readily encouraging new modes of transport, including sky taxis and possibly Hyperloop trains, the country seems set to lead a transportation revolution in the 21st century. Already, style leaders and plutocrats crowd the streets with Lamborghinis and Bugattis: the police force fielding equally formidable patrol vehicles to control over-eager drivers.  Police inventories include a Brabus-tuned 690 horsepower Mercedes Geländewagen capable of off-road desert sorties, and at least one $1.6 million Bugatti Veyron for on-road speeders, along with a Porsche 918 and various Aston Martins.  Several other supercars ensure a fairly even pursuit …

Boeing Announces Zunum Progress, Acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

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 …

David Ullman: Flying on Multiple Tiny Motors

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

David Ullman, a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, predicted electric flight’s future in articles in 2009* and 2010**.  His predictions have come (mostly) true and David is working to fulfill the rest.  His background in mechanical and aeronautical engineering provides credibility for his prognostications, and he’s taking practical steps to take electric aviation to a next, very creative level. While Uber’s Elevate Summit in Dallas earlier this year focused on big-money players in the vertical aviation world, David and co-creator Vincent H. Homer promoted their paper, “The IDEAL for Near-VTOL Aircraft.”  IDEAL represents “Integrated Distributed Electric – Augmented Lift” flight, using “thrust from distributed electric propulsion to improve the lift and drag performance of the aircraft during takeoff, cruise …

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 …

Volocopter Starts Autonomous Air Service Trials in Dubai

Dean Sigler Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

In June, Dubai’s Road and Transit Authority (RTA) announced its plans to test fly Volocopter’s 200 over the country by the last quarter of this year.  The government and Volocopter have succeeded in meeting that timeline, with demonstrations this week of Volocopter’s quiet ability to fly autonomously (although without passengers so far).  Aerial transit will be a small part of a much broader scheme, the government intent on providing excellent public transportation, as shown in this well-produced video. To ensure meeting Dubai’s ambitious goal, Volocopter’s designers tested the machine thoroughly in German skies.  Note the Grob Strato 2C by one of the hangars, the twin-engined airplane in which Einar Enevoldson, founder of the Perlan Project, set the still extant world …