Tecnam Goes Electric in Parallel and with Batteries

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

Tecnam, an Italian aircraft producer noteworthy for supplying the base aircraft for NASA’s X-57 Maxwell distributed electric test vehicle, has two of its own electric craft under development.  One will be a parallel-hybrid single-engine/motor four-seater with perhaps the smallest motor Rolls-Royce can supply.  The other will employ a battery-only system to power an 11-seat commuter aircraft. Tecnam’s history, starting in 1948, includes the design and manufacture of over 33 types of aircraft, with deliveries of over 5,500 airframes in more than 65 countries. Parallel Power Introduced in 2018, the H3PS (“High Power High Scalability Aircraft Hybrid Powertrain”) project was a collaboration among Tecnam, BRP-Rotax and (at the time) Siemens, which supplied the electric motor.  Siemens’ electric aircraft division has since …

Beam Me Up: Flying on Sunshine™

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

We recently reported on two electrically-powered cross-country flights for which the big issue was lack of battery-charging facilities at airports along the way.  Both “teams” had their chargers carried by an accompanying airplane or automobile.  Now, with a public demonstration a Beam Global charger at Reedley Municipal Airport in Fresno County, California, we see a no-fuss way to bring EV charging to aviation – even in remote locations. Beam Global premises its installations on a foursome of negatives: No permitting, no construction, no electrical work, and no utility bill.  Installation, if one believes Beam’s video, is almost a non-event. Beam, formerly Envision Solar, produces pre-fabricated EV ARC solar-powered charging stations.  Like a vacation camper, the ARCs can be towed right …

Erik, Eric, Dr. Anderson, Verdego and Hybrid Power

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

In a recent AVWeb Vodcast, Paul Bertorelli interviewed Embry Riddle’s Dr. Pat Anderson on the topic, “Why Electric Airplane Designers Are Turning to Hybrid Drives.”  Battery energy-carrying capability has not fulfilled its promise yet, according to Anderson.  The difference in energy density between fossil fuels and batteries is still too great to fulfill missions involving more than small craft and short distances for the most part.  This outlook caused Dr. Anderson’s associates, Eric Lindbergh and Eric Bartsch to form Verdego Aero, dedicated initially to developing a Diesel-hybrid generator system. They corroborate Dr. Anderson’s sense of current battery technology, their web site answering “Why hybrid?”  They explain, “Electric aircraft are at the forefront of aviation technology, but the energy density of current …

H3X – A Motor with High Power Density

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

H3X, a motor company started by three University of Madison, Wisconsin graduates, promotes its integrated motor/inverter power plant as “the next step in the evolution of electric propulsion technology.”  With Their HPDM-250’s 13-kilowatt-per-kilogram continuous power ability, it meets ARPA-E’s (Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy’s) criteria for powering large, 737-type aircraft. Electronics Weekly reports, “ARPA-E has determined that for a Boeing 737 to complete a typical five hour flight, the propulsion system must be >12 kW/kg continuous.”  H3X adds, “These specifications are estimates based on electromagnetic thermal and structural simulations. Data from dynamometer will be available Q2 2021.” Their motor is roughly twice as power dense as MagniX motors of similar power, according to H3X. Weight reduction is an intrinsic part of …

What’s the HAPS?

Dean Sigler Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

What do a Japanese investment bank, a software network, balloons and a gigantic stratospheric flying wing called HAPS have in common?   Let’s look at the players and then piece together this puzzle. Softbank According to Wikipedia, “SoftBank Group Corp.[11][12] is a Japanese multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered in Minato, Tokyo. SoftBank owns stakes in many technology, energy, and financial companies. It also runs Vision Fund, the world’s largest technology-focused venture capital fund, with over $100 billion in capital.[13][14] “The company is known for its leadership by founder Masayoshi Son.[15] It operates in broadband, fixed-line telecommunications, e-commerce, internet, technology services, finance, media and marketing, semiconductor design, and other areas. “SoftBank was ranked in the Forbes Global 2000 list as the 36th largest public company in the world,[16] and the second largest publicly traded …

DLR’s Novel Configurations

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) conducting research into the potential of new types of design have crafted novel configurations for future flight.  The DRL and BDLI (German Aerospace Industries Association or Bundesverband der Deutschen Luft- und Raumfahrtindustrie)  have published a white paper: “Zero Emission Aviation – Emissionsfreies Fliegen” explicating these configurations. Surprisingly, one of their major findings is that “Electric flight enables lighter aircraft with smaller wings and distributed propulsion systems.”  Battery weight has caused MagniX and Ampaire to reduce the number of passengers or the cargo loads on conversions of existing airframes.  To counter those issues, “An EU research project is investigating the potential for new propulsion systems and aircraft concepts.”  …

Peter Sripol’s Mk. IV is Paramotor Powered

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Peter Sripol creates interesting ultralight aircraft, among other, sometimes scary projects. His latest is pulled along by a paramotor motor.  Because of the small aircraft’s low and slow performance, the low-power (and very low noise) motor seems more than sufficient to the task. His fourth design, the Mk IV has no ailerons, much like an earlier ultralight, the Skypup.  After initial tests showed shortcomings with the Mk. IV,  quickly modified wings allowed Peter to return to the air quickly.  As he explains, there won’t be plans for this airplane because it has too many not as yet time-tested innovations.  The hot-wire-cut foam structure and vinyl wrapped wings are an unknown in terms of longevity, so it’s probably best to let …

DLR’s Future Visions

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, GFC, Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

One Size Does Not Fit All DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt or German Aerospace Center) and the German Aerospace Industries Association (Bundesverband der Deutschen Luft- und Raumfahrtindustrie; BDLI) present future visions of electric aircraft.  These range from a four-seat hydrogen-powered repurposed Pipistrel that nine years ago won the NASA Green Flight Challenge to large, multiple propeller, medium-range airliners. Their White Paper, “Zero Emission Aviation – Emissionsfreies Fliegen” (unfortunately available only in German) promotes the promise of “energy transition in air transport, with the goal of zero emissions,” and claims this is “possible by mid-century but requires a considerable increase in innovation.” Rolf Henke, the member of the DLR Executive Board responsible for aeronautics research and technology, explains, “The …

Ampaire’s Second Electric Eel Sets Record

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

There are now two Ampaire electric EELs* flying, courtesy of Ampaire Aviation.  The second test vehicle recently set a world record, staying in the air for two hours and 32 minutes, covering 341 miles at an average speed of “around 135 mph.” A six-seat Cessna 337 “Skymaster,” the “push-pull” twin has been modified by Ampaire “with an electric motor in the nose and traditional [internal] combustion engine in the rear.  The paired powerplants act as a parallel hybrid, both electric and ICE units providing thrust simultaneously. Ampaire flew an electric-and-gas-powered Cessna 337 this year. With assistance from Ikhana, a modification and conversion specialist,  Ampaire replaced the 337’s rear engine (which drives a pusher prop) with an electric propulsion system, leaving …

Wright Electric, ARPA-E, and Life’s Report Card

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

If, as the infamous cartoon in the New Yorker proclaimed, “Money is life’s report card,” Jeff Engler’s Wright Electric got a least a B+ for its current semester.  While not as flush with cash as firms like Joby Aviation, eHang, or Volocopter, Wright received significant recognition for its initiative in designing high-efficiency electric motors with a high-frequency inverter and “an aggressive cooling strategy.”  The $647,039 ARPA-E grant will further Wright’s work on the ARPA-E ASCEND Project. ASCEND stands for Aviation-class Synergistically Cooled Electric-motors with iNtegrated Drives, a sure-fire Scrabble winner and pretty tortuous acronym. Phase one of the project takes the team through the detailed design and subcomponent testing for the system.  Phase two will see Wright build and demonstrate …