Air Race E Leaps Forward with Eight Teams

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

The public got a glimpse of Air Race E at this year’s Dubai Air Show.  Jeff Zaltman, CEO of Air Race E and Sandra Bour-Schaeffer, head of XO Airbus Demonstrators, pulled the wraps on Team Condor’s converted Cassutt racer – one of eight teams entering the fray.   Race E is an update of the classic small aircraft races held following World War II, and many of the airplanes in the upcoming events will be re-motored and redesigned versions of these craft.  Formula 1 racing has not changed much since its 1947 inception. Most air small air racers relied on the Continental C-85 engine, mildly uprated and turning faster than it did in Aeronca Champions or Piper Cubs.  Formula E …

Volocopter’s Short Flight Over the Bay

Dean Sigler Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Volocopter air taxi flies over Singapore’s Marina Bay Volocopter flew the latest version of its two-seat sky taxi, the 2X, on a two-minute, 1.5-kilometer excursion around and over Singapore’s Marina Bay on October 22.  This short flight, surrounded by massive, futuristic skyscrapers, highlighted the controllability of the small machine and its ability to use minimal infrastructure, taking off from and landing on a simple grass plot. Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter, applauded the flight’s verification of his vision.  “The flight today in Singapore was the most advanced Volocopter flight yet and the piloted flight was as stable as ever. At the same time, we are showcasing a prototype of our full-scale VoloPort Infrastructure, allowing for a realistic demonstration of air …

Total Operating Costs – Batteries Included

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Gilles Rosenberger, co-founder of Faraday Aerospace with Michael Friend, former Technology Director for Boeing, commented on a recent entry on H55’s Energic two-seat trainer.  He expanded on the idea of total operating costs for electric aircraft, including the battery replacement. He congratulated the H55 team and added a point about which your editor will attempt greater diligence.  “But why keeping talking about operating cost and not total cost of ownership?  No pilot, no student is going to pay only few dollars per hours based on the energy cost.  Who do you believe is going to pay for other cost including the battery amortization?” Practicing the best public relations and salesmanship gambits, most aircraft sales operations don’t mention the eventual cost …

Volt Aero Cassio Hybrid – From France

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

You may have noticed an ongoing divide in electric aircraft philosophies, that of designing from a blank sheet, or that of converting an existing airplane from fossil fuel to electric power.  French company VoltAero has chosen the second path with its Cassio. A conversion of a Cessna 337 Skymaster, it shares similarities to Ampaire’s 337 conversion, with significant differences in its power configuration. What has Five (Three?) Motors and Three Propellers? Ampaire’s 337 conversion retains the “push-pull” arrangement of the original, with the “pusher” an electric power unit behind the cabin and between the twin tail booms.  VoltAero’s replaces the front engine with a faired, engineless nose and one REX 60-kilowatt (80.4 horsepower) electric motor on the nose of each …

What Has One Engine, Six Motors and Seven Propellers?

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

EcoPulse™, a collaboration by Airbus, Daher, and Safran is a fixed-wing distributed hybrid propulsion aircraft whose power system emulates many of the Urban Air Mobility vehicles that use an electric Vertical Take Off and Landing configuration.  Safran, notable for its gas turbines, will supply the propulsion system (excluding batteries).  The system consists of a turbogenerator (combined turbine and power generator), an electric power management system, and integrated electric thrusters (or e-Propellers) including electric motors and propellers faired neatly into the wings. EcoPulse partners claim the six small electric motors spread along the leading edge, while providing propulsion thrust, lead to a reduction of wing surface area – much of the wing gaining lift from the blown areas, lowered wingtip marginal …

Amprius’ Silicon Nanowire Batteries Fly – For 25 Days

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

Sunnyvale, California-based Amprius kept a low profile for several years, despite its founder, Yi Cui, being a leading light in battery development.  Their December 4th press release, though, finds the company to be in a more open mood, their advanced lithium-ion cells with 100-percent silicon anodes having flown Airbus’ Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) for over 25 days, “setting a new endurance and altitude record for stratospheric flight.” This milestone represents a great leap forward since Alan Cocconi flew his So Long solar-powered model for 48 hours, the first of many projects of which he would be an integral part, and the first solar airplane to fly overnight.  He worked on the General Motors EV1 and Eric Raymond’s Sunseeker …

Biofuels from Many Sources

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

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].” …

Battery Options for Range and Longevity

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

Two varying approaches to battery development may hold clues to future directions for energy storage.  At the same time, their announcements, promising as they seem, reinforce our cautious attitudes toward how battery performance numbers are presented. PNNL Attacks the Electrolyte Issue According to Green Optimistic, “Researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a new formula for battery’s electrolyte solution to enhance its performance unprecedentedly in terms of its service life and storage capacity or an electric vehicle’s range.” The video gives an overview of what it takes to make a battery and hints at the reasons battery research takes so long to give up improved energy storage devices. Unprecedented the development may be, and the promise of …

Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Siemens Team Up on Hybrid Airliner

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

As many of your editor’s friends know, he is often lured to trolling the tabloids, looking for juicy bits about the royal family or Hollywood royalty.  Recently, while perusing the Daily Mail* for news of the upcoming Harry/Meaghan nuptials, he came across the big-headline news that three European power players – Rolls-Royce, Airbus, and Siemens, are collaborating on creating a testbed for a hybrid power system. The trio will take a Bae 146 four-engine regional jet, convert it to a hybrid demonstrator by 2020, and have a production plane in place by 2030.  The high-wing airplane has four turbofans in place now, but the partners will replace one with a Siemens two-megawatt electric motor powered by a Rolls-Royce two-megawatt generator …

Doing More with Less – BLI on a Big Scale

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

Hybrid and electric cars sell because they lower operating costs for the owner.  Designers and manufacturers sort out ways to increase efficiency, including streamlining, using low-rolling-resistance tires, and making structures lighter.  An added technology, boundary layer ingestion (BLI) may add to aircraft efficiency. NASA and industry leaders are working on equivalent solutions for aircraft, and airplanes will end up as different from today’s designs as Toyota Priuses and BMW i3s are from Ford Falcons or Chevrolet Corvettes.  NASA proclaims, “An aviation renaissance, one focused on energy efficiency and economic impact, is on the horizon, and it’s changing how engineers look at aircraft power and design.” Jim Heidmann, a manager of NASA’s Advanced Air Transport Technology Project (AATT), says, “I feel we …