Communicating Between Ducted Fans and the Wing

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Aircraft quite often seem to get designed as an assembly of separate components, wings an entity unto themselves, engines or motors something attached to the fuselage or wings, and not always seen as a set of matched components until final assembly.  Quite often, different components are compromised from their optimal shape or structure because of the need to integrate them with other parts of the craft.  One group of researchers is finding ways to even cause components to begin communicating among themselves. Some parts, such as engines or motors, are hung on the wing or fuselage as replacements for earlier design variants.  The new powerplants may provide additional power, but they may also interfere with the overall performance and handling …

A Triple-Redundant Powerplant

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Your editor saw this Tweet from Frank Anton, head of Siemens eAircraft: FrankAnton @Frank_E_Anton Oct 9 Hybrid-electric with multiple redundancy: three independent drive units in one engine block. Should a module fail, flight can continue with two remaining components. Scalewings engine exists as concept, development work expected to take three years. This caused your editor to go quickly to the ScaleWings home page, where a beautiful P-51 Mustang in 70-percent scale dazzles.  The airplane is available in Ultralight, Light Sport Aircraft, and Experimental configurations using engines from the UL and Rotax lines up to a Chevrolet LS300, with a supercharged variant offering up to 600 horsepower.  Their brochure, in German or English gives a great overview of the features of this carbon-fiber …

DHL Parcelcopter Delivers the (Medical) Goods

Dean Sigler Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Vertical Daily News this morning reports on the DHL Parcelcopter 4.0 as it delivers medicines to an island in Lake Victoria on the northern tip of Tanzania.  The Parcelcopter is a fourth generation design from Wingcopter, a German drone manufacturer.  It’s found delivering packages autonomously in German mountain demonstrations and now in differently rugged terrain, flying life-saving packages to a remote island. With financial help from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ – The German Society for International Cooperation ) GmbH ( on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), DHL and Wingcopter have flown a total of 1,367 miles (2,200 kilometers) and about 2,000 flight minutes in a six-month trial.  The 37-mile (60-kilometer) flights …

Biofuels from Many Sources

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

We’ve looked at an array of different biofuel sources ranging from used cooking oil and algae to farm and municipal waste.  This is essential as the percentage of airline emissions becomes a bigger part of our overall greenhouse gas situation.   The Guardian reports, “A 2017 estimate said air travel accounted for 2.5% of all carbon dioxide emissions, with the total emissions expected to quadruple by 2050.”We’ll look here at how some of the early efforts have panned out and examine a late-breaking surprise or two. Mustard Seeds? According to the Guardian, “A Qantas plane powered partly by mustard seeds has become the world’s first biofuel flight between Australia and the United States, after landing in Melbourne on [January 30, 2018].” …

Zunum Picks Safran Helicopter Engine for ZA10

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Ashish Kumar, CEO of Zunum Aero, announced that his firm will partner with Safran Helicopter Engines to use that firm’s Ardiden 3Z engine as the powerplant for Zunum’s 10-passenger regional airliner.  He lists the advantages this installation will provide. “Our ZA10 aircraft, under development for entry in the early 2020s, will be powered by dual power sources: propulsion batteries, and a Safran turboshaft in the 1,700 to 2,000 shaft horsepower (shp) Ardiden range.  This new model, the Ardiden 3Z, will be used as a hybrid power source achieving demanding cost, efficiency and uptime requirements.  It will be coupled with an electric generator, and the integrated turbo-generator will deliver 500 [kilowatts] of electric power to supplement propulsion batteries on key stages …

Oxis Energy Hits a Lithium-Sulfur Battery High

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

That near-mythical 10X  (of current lithium cells’ energy density) battery hangs out there on the distant horizon, promising automobiles that can exceed 1,000 miles range, or light aircraft that can carry four at Cessna-like distances.  Right now, we have two-place trainers good for an hour’s laps around the circuit, and the hope for improvements soon.  OXIS Energy, a UK-based company, has achieved 425 Watt-hours per kilogram at the cell level, and looks to go higher in the near future. Lithium-Sulfur – A Worthy Alternative? Promoters of lithium-sulfur batteries suggest their products have several desirable characteristics and performance boosts that may transcend the limits of lithium-ion cells.  Sion Power, for instance, claims availability of their Licerion battery with an even better …

HES Element One Could Fly Four 5,000 Kilometers

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sky Taxis, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

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. …

Lithium-Oxygen Battery Breakthrough

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada – not far from Niagara Falls) News, reported, “Chemists make breakthrough on the road to creating a rechargeable lithium-oxygen battery.”  Dr. Linda Nazar, Canada Research Chair in Solid State Energy Materials, led a team that “Resolved two of the most challenging issues surrounding lithium-oxygen batteries, and in the process created a working battery with near 100 per cent coulombic efficiency.” The new work, which appears this week in the journal Science, Proves that four-electron conversion for lithium-oxygen electrochemistry is highly reversible.”  Waterloo is the first to achieve this, doubling electron storage in lithium-oxygen (Li-O2 – also known as lithium-air) batteries.  The video below touches on this and a great many other chemistries. Dr. Nazar …

Al Bowers and the Bell-Shaped Curve

Dean Sigler Basic Science Research Program, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Al Bowers has promoted a different kind of lift distribution curve for wings in his talks at the Experimental Soaring Association’s Western workshop, held every Labor Day weekend at Mountain Valley Airport in Tehachapi, California.  Most aerodynamics textbooks model the elliptical lift distribution as an ideal to be achieved in wing design.   R. J. Mitchell, designer of the classic Spitfire fighter, incorporated an elliptical planform, which serendipitously allowed room for the Browning machine guns in the capacious inboard sections.  What could be wrong with that when the finest sailplanes exploit that same theory in their slender spans? Albion Bowers is retiring Chief Scientist at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base.  His experiments with an alternative way of …

SmartFlyer is Looking Smart

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Only a design concept just a few years ago, the SmartFlyer hybrid aircraft is swiftly approaching full-fledged reality.  CEO Rolf Stuber started the project and has been joined by Daniel Wenger, who shares design honors with him; and eleven others with a dazzling array of skills and degrees.  Every member of the team has built, flies or has flown in everything from gliders to “heavy” airliners. The team’s goal is to craft a “proof of concept” airplane which will fly by 2021. Facebook Updates Recent Facebook photographs show a nose section with a Rotax 914 engine driving a special generator, yards of orange cable connecting the big pieces, and a set of formers for what will probably be the fuselage …