Solar Impulse – Swiss Pride

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Andre’ Borschberg, CEO of the Solar Impulse project, has been flying the giant airplane over many scenic and civic sites in Switzerland, crossing from its home field at Payerne to Geneva International Airport on September 21, and then returning the same day to Payerne.  The next day, Borschberg cruised to Zurich International Airport and returned to the plane’s home base.  As quoted in the project’s press release, Borschberg was happy about the chance to view Switzerland from his rare and lofty perch.  “’These flights are just amazing! Thanks to the plane’s low speed, I was able to discover Switzerland from a completely new angle, fully taking in the beauty of our country!’ said André Borschberg, CEO and Co-founder of Solar …

Launching on a Leaf Blower and a Hacker

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

Paul Dewhurst and Dr. Paul Robertson, chronicled in an earlier entry about their simultaneous electric ultralight flights last year, have created another first, a parallel hybrid motorglider launch. The truncated flight of their Alatus took place on September 9, 2010 at Sywell Aerodrome, between Coventry and Cambridge north of London. Dewhurst notes, “Flight was quite short though (around 1.5 minutes) after the controller suffered a bit of tantrum complete with sparks! Rework [is] in process and we hope to have a rather longer flight soon.” Replacing the Lynch unit normally used in the Alatus’s motorized version with an unspecified 76cc, 2.8 kilowatt (3.75 horsepower) internal combustion four-stroke leaf blower unit paralleled with a Hacker A200 12 kilowatt (16 horsepower) large model airplane …

Boeing SolarEagle – The Five-Year Flyer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Whether ferreting out insurgents in Afghanistan or monitoring agricultural trends in America, the ability to stay overhead and continue in a mission is of great importance for an aircraft providing aerial intelligence. Our recent stories about 200-foot span, hybrid electric HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) aircraft being tested at NASA Dryden Test Flight Center at Edwards Air Force Base showed a pair of large aircraft with the ability to stay up for a week, a persistence of overhead vision that is astonishing.  Now Boeing has announced a bigger, wildly more persistent vehicle, the SolarEagle, 435 feet in span, capable of floating around at 60,000 feet on solar/electric power for five years.  The 6,000 pound airframe can carry a payload of …

Richard Van Grunsven’s Antares 20E

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

In a visit to Richard Van Grunsven’s airport home, just across the Sunset Highway from North Plains, Oregon, this blogger was privileged to get a closeup view of his Antares 20E, an electric self-launching sailplane from Germany’s Lange Aviation.  Spanning 20 meters (65.6 feet), the gleaming white ship has fluidity of line and integrity of design one would expect from Gerhard Waibel (the “W” in Alexander Schleicher’s ASW sailplanes).  The outstanding feature that sets this particular long-span craft apart is its 42 kilowatt (57 horsepower) motor, snugged neatly into a bay behind the pilot, and raised on a carbon-fiber mast by a smooth electric/hydraulic mechanism.  A cylindrical unit, the motor’s outer shell rotates about a stationary hub attached to the …

Smallest Four-Motor Electric Plane Flies

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For a company that employs over 119,000 and has annual revenues approaching 43 billion Euros ($55 billion), the Cri-Cri (Cricket) seems a minuscule part of their enterprise, but garners a huge share of publicity.  Reporters and photographers flocked to Le Bourget field near Paris on September 2 to record the first flight of the petite creation.  The EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V.)  press release explains the excitement.   The all electric Cri-Cri, jointly developed by EADS Innovation Works, Aero Composites Saintonge and the Green Cri-Cri Association has made its official maiden flight at Le Bourget airport near Paris on Thursday. This Cri-Cri is the first-ever four-engined all-electric aerobatic plane. The event has been supported by the French Musée …

Green Flight Challenge: Elektra One Progress

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Dipl. Ing. Calin Gologan, President of PC-Aero, showed the completed version of Elektra One, a Green Flight Challenge contender, at Friedrichshafen’s Expo for Sustainable Mobility in June. Over the last two years, PC-Aero has designed a series of light, electric-powered aircraft.  As Gologan explains, “Using the existent technology it is possible to fly with a one- and a two-seat aircraft without CO2-emission for more than 3 hours, without noise and for lower operation costs in comparison with classic aircrafts. This is the future of leisure aviation as a bridge to the next step: electric transportation.” Just two months after its debut at Aero 2010, Elektra One graced the halls again as part of “The Electric Avenue”.  Surrounded by electric vehicles of …

Ultralight and Electric – The Red Tail Hawk

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Many of us dream of retiring and pursuing the dreams that sustained us during our careers.  One man has done that with the kind of work ethic that makes retirement highly productive.  He maintains two web sites; a Yahoo group dedicated to his latest homebuilt electric sailplane, and a more inclusive overview of his many aeronautical projects. Jerry Booker took early retirement from the architectural technology profession, and having grown up on a farm, “enjoyed ‘green’ living, with a lot of physical activity, and now [lives] in the farm country in central Illinois.” Designing and building even a simple airplane is a task that requires the willingness to learn and explore new ideas, and if that craft includes an electric powerplant, a …

HALE Another: AeroVironment’s Global Observer

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We reported last month on Boeing’s High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle, the Phantom Eye.  Now AeroVironment’s similar HALE, the Global Observer, is undergoing initial flight testing at NASA Dryden Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Meant to provide “persistent” communications and remote sensing capabiliies for military or civilian applications, the less-than-10,000-pound Global Observer can carry 400-pound payloads to 65,000 feet and stay there for a week on its four electric motors, which resemble larger versions of  the Astro-Flight motors used on Helios, Pathfinder, and other AeroVironment craft. Missions, according to the firm, include “low cost, rapidly deployable telecommunications infrastructure and GPS augmentation; hurricane and storm tracking, weather monitoring, wildfire detection, and sustained support for relief …

Dr. Jaephil Cho’s Powerful Silicon Nanotubes

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Shortly before appearing at the fourth Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium at Rohnert Park, California, Dr. Jaephil Cho was interviewed by Esther Levy of Material Views, an online resource dealing with, as the title implies, high-technology materials.  Dr. Cho, Dean of the new Interdisciplinary School of Green Energy at Ulsan National Institute of Science & Technology (UNIST), works with lithium-ion cells, and along with Dr. Yi Cui of Stanford University, is considered among the most forward thinking researchers in the field. Where Dr. Cui’s efforts are related to development of better cathodes, Dr. Cho’s work focuses on improving anode performance. Their efforts have led to an 80-percent improvement in cathode performance, as reported in Dr. Cui’s presentation at EAS III, and …

CAFE News: NASA’s Colloquia Feature Dr. Seeley

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col·lo·qui·um (n.) 1. An informal meeting for the exchange of views. 2. An academic seminar on a broad field of study, usually led by a different lecturer at each meeting. The Free Dictionary CAFE Foundation President Dr. Brien Seeley spoke by invitation at the Sigma Series Colloquium at NASA Langley in Hampton, Virginia on May 4th. His talk had an illustrious heritage as part of the longest-running science colloquia in America, beginning 50 years ago with a presentation by Werner von Braun, and since then including talks by Carl Sagan, Alex Haley, Neil Armstrong and other notables. Dr. Seeley was interviewed by NASA public relations TV and a local news station. Although not used to being treated like a celebrity, he found …