Michael Friend’s Spark Solo

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

“The Quest for a Truly Practical Electric Touring Motor-Glider” Mike Friend is not your typical retired aircraft executive.  As Technical Director for Boeing, he oversaw “the first manned fixed wing aircraft powered by a hydrogen fuel cell/lithium ion battery powerplant that first flew back in 2008.”  He’s been associated with green energy projects since then, including work on the Boeing-supported Zunum project, a set of 10- to 50-passenger electric hybrid airliners.  On the personal front, he hopes to design and build the Spark Solo, a single-seat electric motorglider that will enable cross-country flights from his home base of Bremerton (Washington) Regional Airport. Working with Gabriel DeVault Motorgliders make a good combination with battery power.  Their clean lines enable using low …

Stemme Goes Electric with its New Elfin

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

Reiner Stemme designed his namesake sailplane 30 years ago and the overall design and his new Elfin retains the original pop-out nose cone, folding propeller configuration.  The 50:1 glide ratio means this 20-meter (75-foot) span motorglider offers less than 40 pounds of drag at its maximum takeoff weight 0f 1984 pounds.  That is a significant benefit for the new electrically-powered version – which can fly further and save its batteries for retrieval and go-arounds. In its latest iteration, the Stemme configuration is a totally new airframe being built by a totally new company, Reiner Stemme Aero GmbH.  As explained on the new firm’s web site, “The Elfin design is a complete new development and [is] not base[d] upon the existing …

Archer Aviation Gets Fiat Chrysler Backing

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

Another eVTOL?  Among the many battery- and solar-powered entries at this year’s (virtual) Consumer Electronics Show, Archer Aviation has entered the electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (EVTOL) market with Fiat Chrysler backing.  It’s being discreet about it, however, and reveals little detail. The company willingly shares its mission statement, though.  “To fix traffic and create a fully renewable transportation solution, we’re designing, manufacturing, and operating advanced electric aircraft that can travel 60 miles at 150 mph, all with today’s technology.” They present only one picture of their design, a head-on shot on a black backdrop.  We can see the six large rotors blanketing the leading edge of the wing, but wonder how and where the six vertical lift rotors are …

To the Contrary, Propeller-Wise

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

Sacramento, California based CR Flight is dedicated to building highly-efficient motor/propeller combinations based on contra-rotation – propellers turning contrary to one another.  Not to be confused with counter-rotation – two propellers driven by two different engines and turning in opposite directions – contra-rotating propellers are driven in tandem by the same engine.  In the case of CR Flight, they are driven by the same electric motor.  Their web site shows a simple animation of the result.  An instructive video provides details about the benefits and drawbacks of the concept.   The firm’s mission statement gives a hint of its character.  “CR Flight™ partners with established industry leaders to design, patent, license, manufacture and provide the industry’s only patented counter-rotating motors …

MAHEPA and HY4 Go High

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

MAHEPA (Modular Aproach to Hybrid-Electric Propulsion Architecture) is a European Union project to build emission-free aircraft.  A public flight of Pipistrel’s HY4 hydrogen-powered, four-seat aircraft was the latest demonstration of the group’s progress. Challenging Objectives Overall, MAHEPA hopes to accomplish five objectives: Advancing the fuel-driven serial hybrid-electric Powertrain which uses a lightweight internal combustion engine (ICE), capable of running multiple fuels as the power generation module. Advancing the reliability of zero-emission serial hybrid-electric powertrain which uses a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Hydrogen Fuel Cell (FC) as the power generation module. Advancing new airborne qualified, lightweight, high-power density components such as a 200 kW+ electric motor, a 100 kW+ generator and improved power electronics using Silicon Carbide (SiC) technology to increase …

Airbus Goes Modular with Hydrogen Pods

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

Airbus announced its Zero E program in late September, showing three possible candidates for hybrid hydrogen power.  Zero E, for zero emissions, is a tall order even for one of the world’s two largest aircraft companies.  Now, the company makes yet another announcement – for a novel modular “pod” configuration – “a stand-alone propeller propulsion system powered by hydrogen fuel cells. It consists of the following elements:” A propeller Electric motors Fuel cells Power electronics LH2 tank A cooling system A set of auxiliary equipment Instead of housing the hydrogen fuel in the fuselage, Airbus creates a more spacious cabin by moving fuel storage to each pod.  Each pod would be identical and modular.  Components could be removed and replaced …

Something to Lighten the Post-Holiday Letdown

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

Even following Boxing Day, we have a few items to re-gift to our faithful readers, and close out the season with four very light examples of electric aviation. A-I-R ATOS Felix Ruhle has been improving and refining a basic wing design for over a decade, growing a line of aircraft that range from simple hang-gliders to fairly sleek, self-launching, electrically-powered ultralight sailplanes.  The A-I-R factory/showroom in Halblech, Germany, one of 18 dealerships around the world, fronts a lush green meadow and houses a plethora of ATOS wings. The ATOS wing, coming in a range of sizes, can be attached to seemingly anything from a simple jump-off-the-nearest cliff hang-gliding rig to refined, electrically-powered ultralight sailplanes. Under development for the last few …

Sunseeker Duo Plays Among the Alps

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

Eric and Irena Raymond took a lovely Sunseeker Duo flight over the Italian alps near their home in Voghera and edited it all into a video.  They designed and built their own solar-powered airplane – Eric’s third.  He flew Sunseeker 1 across the US in 1990 in 21 hops.  A big press conference scheduled for his last landing at Kitty Hawk, NC was a big disappointment since the US invaded Kuwait that day. Six Minutes of Great Beauty Their airplane has solar cells arrayed across the wing and horizontal tail, a small battery pack that gets recharged while flying in the sun, and a 22 kilowatt (30 hp) motor on the tail.  Turning off the motor they can soar on …

ZeroAvia Gains Backing at High Levels

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

“Cannot be more proud and humbled to be a part of this stellar team!”  That’s power system developer Gabriel DeVault’s response to ZeroAvia’s Chief Financial Officer Katya Akulinicheva’s enthusiastic endorsement of Bloomberg LP’s news.  She listed the investors taking an active interest in ZeroAvia, including Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, Horizons Ventures, Shell Ventures and Summa Equity. Already benefiting from a $16.3 million grant from Innovate UK, Aerospace Technology Institute and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), ZeroAvia will be able to push forward on plans to create a 19-seat hydrogen-powered commuter liner. According to Bloomberg, “ZeroAvia aims to demonstrate that it can fly a plane 500 miles (804 kilometers) with as …

Joby “Unicorn” Gains Private, Military Backing

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

Joby Aviation is one of few “unicorns” in the electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) market, a billion-dollar enterprise.  With funding coming from Toyota, several venture capital investors, Uber and the U. S. Army, Joby seems poised to demonstrate Urban Air Mobility (UAM) in a serious way. In 2011 JoeBen Bevirt, founder of Joby Energy, Joby Aviation, and creator of those knobby-looking tripods you see everywhere, invited Patrick McLaughlin to visit his design studio.  Your editor got to tag along.  On Woodpecker Ridge, north of Santa Cruz, JoeBen’s barn-like studio housed about a dozen engineers and designers all working on electricity-generating kites.  He wore a T-shirt reading, “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much …