Aviation Milestone: Successful Electric World Record Flight

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The Elektro-Weltrekordflug (electric world record flight) team had great success in its flight from Schänis, Switzerland to Norderney, on Germany’s North Sea.  Setting five of its intended seven world records and then flying back to Switzerland, the team and its Pipistrel Velis showed that electric flight can be a reality for light aircraft.  All we need are charging stations along the way. Your Editor will do something not normal to the blog – repeat most of someone else’s writing with a few comments tossed in. “The world record flight with the first certified electric aircraft from the Alps to the North Sea in Norderney was a success. The “Pipistrel Velis Electro” landed again in Schänis (Switzerland) on Sunday evening. In addition, five …

Flying the Atlantic Electrically – The Freedom Flight Prize

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It almost stops your editor in his tracks when he reflects that 93 years ago, Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic in his Spirit of St. Louis.  Even more astounding, competitors may win the Freedom Flight Prize by the 100th anniversary of that flight by making a cross-Atlantic and return flight in a 100-passenger, all-electric airliner. Carbon Footprint Ltd. Lindbergh’s plane, custom built but derived from a Ryan M-1 mail plane, cost $10,580 ($158,357 in 2019 dollars) and earned the $25,000 Orteig Prize.  Now, an organization in England, “Carbon Footprint Ltd. has launched a competition to encourage sustainable passenger flight. It has created the Freedom Flight Prize, a competition focused on crossing the Atlantic Ocean 100-percent powered by renewable energy — with seating for …

On to the North Sea, Electrically

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Elektroweltrekordflug A team in Switzerland attempted an elektroweltrekordflug, an electric world record flight, hoping to set seven world records in one 700-kilometer trip. Flying a new, certified Pipistrel Velis, the team of Marco Buholzer and co-pilot Morell Westermann hoped to find their way into the Guinness Book of World Records for the following: • Lowest energy consumption (kWh / 100 km -62 miles) over 700km (434 miles) • Highest average speed over 700 km (km / h) • Highest flight altitude ever reached with an electric aircraft (meters – 3.280 feet – above main sea level) • Fastest climbing performance from 0-1000m / 1000-2000m / 2000-3000m (m / s) • Fastest average speed over 100km (km / h) • Smallest …

Pipistrel’s Nuuva’s – Electric Cargo Haulers

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Like the TV commercial of the obviously wealthy couple requesting an architect design a kitchen around their choice of designer faucet, Pipistrel may have designed a cargo aircraft around the ubiquitous EUR-pallet.  Its extraordinary Nuuva V300 can hold three of these 1,200 mm × 800 mm × 144 mm (47.2 in × 31.5 in × 5.7 in) platforms laden with items destined for distant places.  The common dimensions enable planning a load (also considering total weight) that can be inserted into the Nuuva with a standard forklift.  The cargo hold can manage up to 460 kilograms (1,000 pounds) within three cubic meters (106 cubic feet) of space, a little more than an Escalade. Electricity to Lift, Gasoline to Push It takes a big vehicle with loads of power to hoist …

Amazon PrimeAir FAA Approved

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St. Paul gave us the idea that there are several heavens, a layered set of spiritual levels increasingly sublime with altitude.  That’s why there’s a “seventh heaven” of love, tranquility and bliss.  Then there are earthly regulations to consider. The FAA’s approval meets with Amazon’s approval.  “We’re excited about Prime Air — a future delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones. Prime Air has great potential to enhance the services we already provide to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery that will also increase the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system.” Such services will be limited to the range available …

DOE Promotes Carbon Neutrality Aeronautically

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Both GreenCarCongress.com and CleanTechnica share information about the Department of Energy’s funding of 17 projects in two Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) categories.  Prepare for the inevitable rush of acronyms.  All the projects seem to be reserved for applications on single-aisle short- and intermediate-range airliners, with emphasis on economy of operation, carbon neutrality and lowest possible emissions. ASCEND Powertrain related, ASCEND (Aviation-class Synergistically Cooled Electric-motors with iNtegrated Drives) will fund nine projects with $14.5 in Phase 1 money.  Funds will help recipients, “Work to develop innovative, lightweight, and ultra-efficient all-electric powertrain with advanced thermal management systems that help enable efficient net-zero carbon emissions for single-aisle passenger commercial aircraft.” Raytheon Technologies Research Center has three projects in two ARPA-E categories, …

SolarStratos Announces First Solar Free Fall

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If you happen to be in Payerne, Switzerland tomorrow morning around 7:00 a. m. Tuesday morning, August 25, you might want to visit the local airport.  There, the SolarStratos team will stage a demonstration flight with a free fall parachute jump by the project’s founder. Miquel Iturmendi will pilot Raphael Domjan to an unspecified height, from which Domjan will depart the aircraft and free fall, open his parachute, and join the gathered throng.  Iturmendi will presumably return the airplane shortly thereafter. We’re not sure whether this flight will be available for Cockpit Virtuel viewing, but future expeditions should have that feature, much like the Perlan Project’s world altitude record ventures.   Iturmendi was co-pilot on one run to 65,000 feet. This …

Oxis Batteries to Fly in Two Airplanes

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While we wait yet another five years for commercial development of each newly announced but promising battery chemistry, one company has its cells ready to fly in Bye Aerospace’s eFlyer 2 and in Texas Aircraft’s Colt S-LSA.  Oxis Energy has managed to leapfrog lithium-ion makers with its lithium-sulfur battery packs packing 400 Watt-hours per kilogram.  Considering the best announced pack-level li-ion performance has been 260 W-hr/kg, the leap is significant. Batteries, for now, are at the heart of electric aircraft.  Until Doc Brown’s Flux Capacitor or a hydrogen fuel cell with Dollar Tree refills comes along, batteries are battling it out for our airborne dollars.  Lithium-ion remains in the forefront, with Tesla staging its shareholders’ meeting and its long-anticipated “Battery …

Electrifly-In: A Big Show in a Small Space

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For those of us who find trudging over miles of airfield, such as Oshkosh’s AirVenture, or even local fly-ins spread along a runway tiring, Grenchen, Switzerland’s Electrifly-In may be welcome relief.  The event, previously called the Smartflyer Challenge, is planned for September 12 and 13 and should draw electric aircraft from all over Europe. Grenchen, a town of just over 2,000, has an airport with a single runway of only 865 meters (2,838 feet), enough to enable a Cessna Citation CJ3 to land (and presumably depart).  The runway will host this year’s newly re-named Electrifly-In, devoted to promoting electric aviation.  All the activities will be held in a small, easily-accessible area. All Electric Aircraft – All Day A baker’s dozen …

Two New Electric Sailplanes

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Two electric sailplanes come from different ends of the soaring spectrum and each shows its own unique character.  Their differences are as noteworthy as their geographic separation. Birdy Birdy is a single-seat, electrically powered motor glider that fits the European Union 120 kilogram class.  The 264-pound empty weight puts it 10 pounds above America’s FAA Part 103 254-pound limit.  But Euro craft in that category are not as limited in top or cruise speed. Birdy’s light weight required clever arrangement of components to enable a maximum takeoff weight of 280 kilograms (616 pounds) and pilots up to 1.95 meters (6’ 5”) tall.  Its 13.5-meter (44.29-foot) wingspan carries only 13.9 pounds per foot, enabling 40:1 glide ratio at around 90 kilometers …