Elektra One Video and a Correction

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

This morning, your editor entered the press release and a photo of the PC Aero Elektra One in flight, noting that the landing gear was probably retracted to allow the low energy use reported by Calin Gologan, the plane’s designer.  The video and its accompanying text belie that assumption, and promise even better performance when the airplane is reconfigured in the near future. “Elektra One performed the first flight on 19 Mar. 2011 at the Augsburg Airport in Germany.  Jon Karkow, a well known test pilot and aircraft engineer performed the first flight.  Flight characteristics and engne parameter were tested. The test pilot was very satisfied with the results.  Three flights were performed. The climbing rate was 400 ft/min.  A …

Elektra One Has First Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The brief press release and single photograph from PC-Aero says it all: “ELEKTRA ONE from PC-Aero performed successfully its First Flight for about 30 minutes. Using only 3 kWh of energy. “The internal First Flight was performed by the well known testpilot Jon Karkow.  He did the first check for the flight performance and characteristics of the electric aircraft and briefed the german testpilot Norbert Lorenzen for the next official First Flight.” Although static tests were completed late last year, speculation that Germany’s tough certification laws held up test flights ran through some of the aviation press.   The angle of the photograph makes it difficult to tell whether the center-line landing gear was retracted or not, but the low energy …

Lucky 13 to Fly in Green Flight Challenge

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

Following rigorous evaluations of all aircraft to ensure they meet all standards for the contest, Dr. Brien Seeley, President of the CAFE Foundation, announced the 13 entrants who will compete in the Green Flight Challenge at Santa Rosa, California between July 11 and 17, 2011.  This exciting event will offer the public a first view of some incredible designs and resourceful competitors.  Since the minimum performance required for consideration includes things such as the ability to fly a 200 mile course at 100 mph or better average speed, the ability to clear a 50-foot barrier on a 2,000 foot runway during both takeoff and landing, and the efficiency to attain at least 200 passenger miles per gallon during the overall flight, all aircraft are obviously the most …

No Cracks About Glass Runways, Please

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

My daughter Ann sent me a video about an astonishing and novel use of materials – glass highways that interact with drivers and collect solar power.  Sharing this with Dr. Seeley caused him to share it with his sons, who had immediate feedback.  Damon Seeley is co-founder and partner with Cameron McNall in Electroland, a collaborative design firm that creates interactive displays involving light, sound, and a variety of media.  He thinks, “The idea is sound,” but shares some caveats based on his experience.  “I’m sure they have wildly optimistic cost projections of what it takes to produce and install these.  Also I now have 5 years’ experience with the extreme unpredictability of sandwich constructions under real-world shear loading from …

Dynamic and Regenerative Soaring – Perpetual Energy in Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Phil Barnes has an impressive set of credentials, and an even more impressive body of work.  Having seen three of his presentations at the Experimental Soaring Association’s Western Workshops, this writer can attest to the breadth and depth of his knowledge. According to his biography, “Phil Barnes has a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona and a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona. He has 25-years of experience in the performance analysis and computer modeling of aerospace vehicles and subsystems at Northrop Grumman. Phil has authored technical papers on aerodynamics, gears, and flight mechanics.” He now has his own web site, How Flies the Albatross, where readers can interact with the flight of …

A Second Slovenian Self-Launching Sailplane – With a Solar-Powered Trailer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Tine Tomazic of Pipistrel alerted the blog that his firm started series production of their Taurus Electro G2, a first for a two-seat electric aircraft, according to Pipistrel, claiming 20 customers who will receive their G2’s by year’s end. Improvements over the prototype led to the “rev.2” series version of the self-launching sailplane, which also is the first electrically-powered craft to exceed the performance of its two-stroke Rotax-powered alternative, according to Tomazic. Pipistrel expands on this.  “Taurus Electro G2 can use a shorter runway, climbs faster and performs much better than the gasoline-powered version when it comes to high altitude operations. All this is possible thanks to the specially-developed emission-free Pipistrel 40kilowatt electric power-train.”  The clean sailplane design (40:1 glide …

The Kindest Cut of All

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

In 1811, an inventive tailor in Ulm, Germany attempted a hang glider flight across the Danube River.  He failed in the attempt, but it became the stuff of legend and at least one television commercial.  Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger (1770-1829) had wanted to be a watchmaker, but was consigned to become a cutter of fabric.  Despite this, he used his spare time to invent things like the first jointed artificial leg in 1808. Perhaps his skills with fabric led to his fabricating a pair of wings, essentially a hang glider, Shunned by his fellows for working outside the discipline of tailoring, Berblinger poured his resources into building and testing his glider.  Leaping from a scaffold built for the attempt by Prince …

Front Electric Self-Launcher on a Silent

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Slovenian father-son team Luka and Matija Znidarsic developed a unique approach to keep a sailplane aloft once it’s launched through traditional aero-tow or winch methods.  Their outrunner  brushless motor produces 15 kilowatts (20 horsepower)at 100 Volts continuously, and can generate 25 kW (33 horsepower) for short bursts.  Weighing  6.5 kilograms (14.3 pounds) in a 180 millimeter (7 inches) diameter, 80 mm (3.15 inches) long package, the motor can be easily set into the modified nose of a conventional sailplane, with a one-meter diameter propeller folding neatly into the streamlines of the fuselage.  It has powered a LAK-17A 18-meter sailplane, showing a positive rate of climb when energized.  In a big sailplane like the LAK, the motor allows shortening expensive tows or extending flight when thermals become iffy. Now, …

Aircraft That Don’t Ask For Directions

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

During the last two Electric Aircraft Symposia, Sebastian Thrun has shared his visions of future autonomous highways travelled by free-range cars that literally think ahead of the curve and don’t allow themselves to be boxed in – and even more daunting – autonomous helicopters that independently perform maneuvers that stretch the envelope in new directions and dimensions. His 2009 EAS presentation featured a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) desert race in which his Stanford University team fielded a Volkswagen Taureg in a 132-mile race through the Mojave.  Although not the ultimate winner, Stanford’s entry completed the course in a time that would have done pride to any human Baja race driver. More related to daily driving and eventual incorporation into …

(Mostly) Borne on the Wind Across Australia

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Wind surfing across southern Australia, a German team showed ingenuity and skill in a 3,000 mile journey that, as their web site boasts, used “no electricity mains, no gasoline,” and produced “zero CO2.” TG Daily and Gizmag announced the successful crossing of Australia (Albany to Sydney) by a wind-powered car.  Although the car carried a telescoping mast and small wind turbine to recharge its 8 killowatt hour lithium battery pack, the two designer/drivers were forced to plug in to available sources from time to time, accounting for the $15 cost of the powering the expedition.  When possible, they towed the 200 kilogram (440 pound) car with a kite. The Wind Explorer web site proclaims that “Plan[ning] your route with the …