Boeing Adds Solar Winglets to Its Solar High-Flyer

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Despite having a wing, horizontal tail, and fuselage top full of solar cells, Solar Impulse 2 needs long days and short nights to make it through the dark periods between recharging.  Even Eric and Irena Raymond’s SunSeeker Duo, a more practical machine, performs only day-long flights so far. Part of this is the nature of sunlight and solar cells, both of which are limited in small areas.  Despite the fact that every hour, each square meter of the upper atmosphere receives 1.367kWh of solar energy, and National Geographic claims that “Every hour the sun beams onto Earth more than enough energy to satisfy global energy needs for an entire year,” it’s hard to harness that energy on a relatively small …

Hydrogen: Are We There Yet?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Probably not, but we are edging closer to when H2-powered vehicles (including small aircraft) might be as ubiquitous as Prius’s or Leafs – but there are significant barriers to overcome. Fuel cell-powered aircraft might make sense eventually from a physical and economic sense, and while new technologies show promise for EV use, hydrogen power still has barriers to overcome before we’re able to exploit the environmental benefits of hydrogen power.  The appeal of a fuel cell to burn hydrogen and leave behind only a light mist of water still dazzles, but teasingly eludes us, not so much from a technical standpoint – but from environmental and economic ones. Two Most Practical Fuel Cells for Transportation Fuel cells come in many …

Fastest Electric Vehicle Design at EAS VI

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Brien Seeley, President of the CAFE Foundation, has made the following announcement: “The Chief designer of the F-22 Raptor has prepared another spectacular design: The World’s Fastest Electric Vehicle. This new aircraft design will be presented along with the other outstanding talks at next week’s CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium, April 27, 28 in Santa Rosa, California (Sonoma Wine Country). This symposium, dedicated to the burgeoning new domain of emission-free flight, now has representatives from Boeing, Bosch, IBM, Honda, Nortrhop-Grumman, Japan Air Lines, Rolls-Royce, Siemens, Aerovironment, FAA, Cummins, Cessna, Lycoming and many other companies enrolled to participate.” The high-speed electric may be a response to Ivo Boscarol’s pledge to put up $100,000 of his Pipistrel G-4 winnings at last year’s …

Albatross, Dragonflies, and Hummingbirds

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Your editor took a trip to Tehachapi, once home of the infamous California Women’s’ Correctional Institution, mentioned in no less than three 1940’s films noirs.  (It’s now a gray-bar hotel for bad boys, not bad girls.)   Lesser offenses were in mind, though, since Labor Day weekend has been the time for 31 meetings of the Experimental Soaring Association’s Western Workshop.  The group, devoted to improving sailplanes and testing the limits of soaring technology, has been in the forefront of many significant developments, and its members include many record holders and aerodynamics experts. This year’s convocation included talks on birds, dragonflies (the Libelle sailplane), and even a demonstration of Aerovironment’s spy hummingbird, a camera-toting drone no larger than a 90-percentile member …

“Mishap” to AeroVironment Global Observer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

It wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke, even though AeroVironment’s press release is dated April 1.  Their Global Observer crashed in the Mojave Desert during extended duration flight testing.  AeroVironment stressed that there were “No injuries or damage to other property reported during envelope expansion flight testing,” and that an “Investigation Board will be convened to probe the cause and provide details of the mishap.” The mishap occurred at 2:30 a. m., approximately 18 hours into the craft’s ninth test flight.  AeroVironment’s press release continues, “’Flight testing an innovative new solution like Global Observer involves pushing the frontiers of technology and convention,’ said Tim Conver, AeroVironment chairman and chief executive officer. ‘Risk is a component of every flight test program, and the …

Something(s) Amazingly New Under the Sun

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

To share an idea of how packed with information and inspiration an Electric Aircraft Symposium can be, I’m still writing reports on the fourth annual event, even though EAS V is coming up April 29 in Santa Rosa, California.  This is the next-to-last blog entry on last year’s presentations, and as noted in yesterday’s press release for the event, 2011’s will have at least as many presenters and material. Tyler MacCready is the son of Paul MacCready, founder of AeroVironment, Inc. and inspiration for many human-powered, ultralight, and solar-powered aircraft over the last several decades.  This author was in England when Bryan Allen pedaled Gossamer Albatross across the English Channel, a breakthrough in what was considered aerodynamically and structurally possible.  …

Boeing’s PhantomEye Powers Up

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

While AeroVironment’s Global Observer High Altitude Long Endurance aircraft has flown at the NASA Dryden Flight Test Center, Boeing’s PhantomEye HALE is in pieces but undergoing testing prior to being shipped to Dryden.  PhantomEye’s hydrogen-fueled engines are being tested at Santa Clarita, California and airframe parts are being prepared for flight at Boeing’s St. Louis, Missouri plant.   AeroVironment’s craft has now flown with fuel cells providing electricity to run the four wing-mounted motors.  PhantomEye uses hydrogen stored in eight-foot diameter tanks in its fuselage to directly fuel the twin Ford 2.3-liter modified engines.  At altitude, a three-stage turbocharger will be required to provide air for an efficient fuel burn. Both unmanned aerial vehicles have similar missions, to fly at 65,000 …

Flying High on Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

AeroVironment announced that their Global Observer™ reached an altitude of 5,000 feet (mean sea level) over Edwards Air Force Base and stayed up for four hours – all on its hydrogen-powered electric motors.  Having made its first flights last August and September on battery power, the Global Observer on January 11, 2011 successfully demonstrated the system that will allow it to stay airborne for up to a week at a time, staying on station at 65,000 feet. This ability to maintain “persistent” communications and surveillance enables to the Global Observer to be flown in from areas remote from a combat theater or natural disaster location, and to uninterrupted observation of the situation.  AeroVironment claims that, “Two Global Observer aircraft, each …

HALE Another: AeroVironment’s Global Observer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

We reported last month on Boeing’s High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle, the Phantom Eye.  Now AeroVironment’s similar HALE, the Global Observer, is undergoing initial flight testing at NASA Dryden Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Meant to provide “persistent” communications and remote sensing capabiliies for military or civilian applications, the less-than-10,000-pound Global Observer can carry 400-pound payloads to 65,000 feet and stay there for a week on its four electric motors, which resemble larger versions of  the Astro-Flight motors used on Helios, Pathfinder, and other AeroVironment craft. Missions, according to the firm, include “low cost, rapidly deployable telecommunications infrastructure and GPS augmentation; hurricane and storm tracking, weather monitoring, wildfire detection, and sustained support for relief …

CAFE Makes the Top of Kitplanes’ Cover

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

 While at the local magazine store, or the proverbial fine book store, you’ll be able to spot Kitplanes’ August 2010 issue easily.  The yellow letters on the cover line above the magazine title pop with upper-case intensity: “FUTURE SHOCK: CAFE’S Electric Aircraft Symposium.” Not only does the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium get pride of place on the magazine’s cover and in four pages inside, but Marc Cook, editor-in-chief for the publication, titles his “Around the Patch” editorial “Making Electric Aircraft Exciting,” and proceeds to share his surprised discovery of respect for the new Toyota Prius, and to praise the husband-wife team of Bill Dube’ and Eva Hakansson, battery builder and racer, respectively, of Killacycle, the 0-60 in one second electric …