An Off-the-Shelf Hybrid Power Package

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Dr. Andrew Frank of the University of California at Davis and Greg Stevenson of GSE, Inc. discussed Efficient Drive Trains at the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium on April 23, 2010.  Their detailed look at a 75-kilogram (165 pound), 36 kilowatt (48 horsepower) power system for a high-performance sailplane gave attendees a clear look at what can be accomplished with off-the-shelf components, especially if the shelf is in either presenter’s warehouse. Dr. Frank, teaching and mentoring in the University’s Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Department, has been dubbed the father of the plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV), and has fielded winning teams for the Shell Eco-Marathon, with lightweight cars that obtained up to 3,500 miles per gallon.  The base two-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine is …

Solar Impulse Night Flight Postponed

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The Solar Impulse project sent out the following press release this morning: “Dear Solar Impulse Friends, “This morning at 06h45, the Solar Impulse Mission Team had to take the difficult decision to postpone the first night flight attempt. “The problem comes from the telemetry transmitter that has broken down. This system enables the ground team to follow in real time the flight mission and to monitor thousands of crucial parameters. With a prototype such as Solar Impulse currently in an experimental phase, this system is an essential component without which, the mission was not possible. “Due to this inoperative piece of equipment produced specifically for this prototype, we were unfortunately unable to replace it and subsequently had to postpone this …

Solar Impulse All-Nighter July 1

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Solar Impulse is set to attempt its first night flight on Thursday, July 1, 2010. Weather conditions are “Favourable for attempting the first night flight on solar energy,” according to the Solar Impulse web site.   “The situation continues to look good and the likelihood of seeing the HB-SIA take off on July 1st and land back in the early morning 2nd July is increasingly probable.” The Solar Impulse team will confirm the date 24 hours before take-off time.  Only accredited journalists will be allowed on-site to witness the event, so don’t head for the Payerne, Switzerland airbase, but follow the flights on the Internet at the project’s special Night Flight web page at www.solarimpulse.com. These flights are crucial to the ongoing aim of …

Solar Sailer Seeks Companionship

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Until now, all solar flight has been solo.  This is understandable, given the need for light weight and large wing areas.  But Eric Raymond is about to change this with Sunseeker III, the world’s first two-seat solar-powered airplane, shown at last weekend’s Green Aviation Show at Le Bourget Field near Paris, France.  Indoor displays were in the Musee’ de l’Air et de L’Espace (the Air and Space Museum). Sunseeker III has a roomy side-by-side seating arrangement in a fuselage derived from the Stemme sailplane.  The wing is crafted from the molds (on long-term loan) for Stuttgart University’s 25-meter (80 feet) Icare II, flown in 1996.  As Raymond explains in his blog, “Professor Nitschmann’s design firm www.sfl-gmbh.de is very friendly to our project, and we hope to work together …

An Airplane With a Familiar Rung to It

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

APEV, the Association Pour la Promotion des Eschelles Volantes, or the Association for the Promotion of Flying Ladders, began life creating Pou de Ciels (Flying Fleas)  based on a fuselage made from a popular, commercially-available aluminum ladder (“Electrified Minions of Mignet,” February 1, 2010).   The ease of construction made these a big hit in France, and the group’s latest effort, an aluminum and Diatex 1000 fabric tribute to Alberto Santos-Dumont’s Demoiselle, appeared at last weekend’s Green Aviation Show at Le Bourget Airport in Paris, France. The Demoichellec (the name comes from the use of l’echelle, or ladder, and the “ec” indicates an electric powerplant) is the latest brainchild of the APEV people.  Although legal threats caused them to give up the …

What’s Small and Green and Has Four Motors?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

At the extremely opposite end of the scale of its big brothers and sisters in the Airbus family, the Green Cri-Cri graced EADS’ (European Aeronautic Defense and Space) display at the second Green Aviation Show  (L’Aviation Verte) held at Le Bourget’s Aviation and Space Museum (Musee’ de l’Aire et de L’Espace) between June 18 and 22, 2010. LIke its bigger siblings, the Cri-Cri has four motors, two on each nose pod protruding on stalks like insect antennae from the nose of the miniscule craft and driving counter-rotating propellers.  The two small outrunner motors on each pod appear to spin with the propellers, and are probably concealed inside the spinners. EADS Innovation Works partnered with Aero Composites Saintonge and the Greencri-cri …

You Never Have to Level a Water Runway

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

A mild kerfuffle rustled through the mostly male audience at the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium when the title of Natalie Jeremijenko’s presentation was announced. The somewhat befuddled response to “Wetlandings are the New Black: Grounding the Environmental Performance of New Flight Infrastructure,” indicated that many Symposium attendees were not GQ subscribers, or ever thumbed through their wive’s copies of Elle or Vogue. But Ms. Jeremijenko’s theme and stylishly-layered variations met with a favorable reaction as she launched into the exposition of her idea. According to her biography on the Environmental Health Clinic web site, “Natalie Jeremijenko is an artist whose background includes studies in biochemistry, physics, neuroscience and precision engineering. Jeremijenko’s projects—which explore socio-technical change—have been exhibited by several museums and …

Solar Flight at Night

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The Solar Impulse prototype, HB-SIA, will be making its first night flights within the next month, according to a June 15, 2010 press release from the project team. With eight successful flights to its credit, the airplane will attempt two critical missions according to the release: “the first night flight ever by a solar aircraft “the first ever complete cycle flight to validate the possibility of long-duration flights without any fuel” “’To fly day and night with a solar aircraft is a human and technological challenge that has never been met so far, and an essential stage of the project’, says André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of Solar Impulse. ‘Demonstrating that we can fly a whole day and night will …

A Swiss Swift

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Feedback, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Editor’s note: Livio Mengotti sent this comment regarding Dr. Steve Morris’s Swift’s first  flights in California, under the pilotage of Brian Porter.  (See “A Manned Swift Takes Flight,” March 1, 2010.) The videos are self-explanatory and filled with technical detail. Based on the videos, Switzerland is filled with open fields and glorious vistas awaiting aerial exploitation. Compare Livio’s undercarriage and pilot accommodations with those of Morris’s craft and the pod on Manfred Ruhmer’s Swift conversion.  Note, also, that the motor is mounted on the front of the wing, instead of behind it, as on the other two examples.  Congratulations for your performance! I built an electric Swift too. I made two flights on April 2010. I can mount and remove …

Solar Impulse Soars on Sunlight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Andre Borschberg, CEO of the Solar Impulse Project, had this to say after he landed following the seventh flight of the Airbus-sized solar craft – but the first using its solar panels for power. “It was like a first encounter with the sun. After I had turned on the solar panel I could see the energy reserves increasing although the engines were continuously consuming power. Never before in my 40 years as a pilot have I experienced anything like this.” Martin Reichlin reported on the excitement of going solar on May 28’s second flight.  “A few minutes ago we could follow by radio how André switched on the four sectors of the round about 200 square meters of solar panels …