Airbus and Local Motors Team up For Cargo Drone Competition

Dean Sigler Announcements, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Richard Glassock, a long-time contributor to the blog and now a Research Fellow in Hybrid Propulsion Systems for Aircraft at the Institute for Aerospace Technology, the University of Nottingham, England, shared this news about an Airbus-sponsored contest for cargo drone designs. Local Motors, well known for its 3D-printed automobiles, and Airbus Group, well known for its range of commercial and military aircraft, just completed a design contest that drew 425 entries.  Rewards were significant for the top three places in the competition, with a main award First Place prize of $50,000, a trip to the Farnborough Airshow in England, and a “1-of-a-kind Cargo Drone Flight Jacket with personalized patch.”  Second place earned the winner $20,000 and third place $10,000, with …

A New Entry in Electric Para-Gliding

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

EV World announced a new electric para-motor, complete with a new motor, composite mounts, and a series of battery pack setups.  Made in France, a complete setup with parasail, motor, controller, batteries and controls costs 14,210 euros ($16,057).  This may seem pricey, but consider that a paramotor can be carried in a pickup or SUV, needs no airport, and is truly “free flight,” avoiding a lot of the rules that encumber much of general aviation. George Blottin, the founder of Aeronature, a parasail and paramotor training site in southern France, wanted something that would avoid the noise and occasional failure of two-and-four-stroke engines.  Electric motors fit that bill, and he worked with a participant on the Airbus e-Fan project to …

Fuel Cells for Taxiing

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel Leave a Comment

What seemed like an easy transition a few years ago has been delayed by one developer.  “Safran and Honeywell have delayed by two years the planned entry into service of their electric green taxiing system (EGTS), a device designed to enable an airplane to taxi with its engines shut down. Aviation International News (AIN) quoted a spokesperson as saying, “The team is still working on the program with a goal of certification in 2018 and entry into service shortly after.”  The system uses motors on the main gear to enable taxiing under power.  One of several competing systems, WheelTug, has motors on the nose gear only. Wheeltug uses a Boeing 737-800 as a testbed for the certification program. A  United …

Perlan 2 Flies

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Perlan 2, the pressurized sailplane destined to attempt flights to the edge of space, made its first test hop Wednesday, September 23 at Redmond, Oregon.  It was towed to 5,000 feet above Redmond Municipal Airport, stayed aloft for about a half-hour, and alighted perfectly under the expert guidance of James (“Jim”) Payne, Chief Pilot for the Airbus-sponsored project.  Morgan Sandercock, Co-pilot and Project Manager, rode the back seat and had a turn at the controls. According to post-flight chat, James and Morgan found things to their liking, with everything, including the huge dive brakes, working as designed and as simulations predicted.  A video crew, on hand to capture the event, used a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter to follow Perlan 2 …

Airbus e-Fan Prepared Well for Today’s Cross-Channel Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

106 years after Louis Bleriot took off into a foggy morning and pointed the nose of his Model XI toward the Dover coast, Airbus celebrates the event with an anniversary flight of their e-Fan prototype,  now sporting a bigger, more powerful battery pack, lightened airframe and lighter electrical components. Their press release carefully avoids mentioning Hugues Duval’s flight the day before, apparently done to upstage the e-Fan’s trip.  It does claim credit for making the first cross-channel flight in a “twin-engine electric plane,” even though Duval’s Cri-Cri was powered by twin Electravia motors. “At 11am on a calm, sunny summer morning, the Airbus E-Fan touched down in Calais to enter its name in the record books. The all-electric plane became the first …

Electric Cri-Cri Crosses English Channel

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Michael Coates, the U. S. General Distributor for Pipistrel Aircraft, sent the following missive from Ivo Boscarol, General Manager and Founder of the Slovenian company, now in its 26th year. “Dear All, “It is my pleasure to inform you that our friend Hugues Duval after reading the information that Pipistrel was blocked in flying across the English Channel today became the first electric aircraft to cross the English Channel in his CRI-CRI E-Cristaline Electric aircraft. “As Duval already had the permanent permit to fly his aircraft there was no need to ask for a permit to fly over the English Channel, but only to fill the flight plan. It was possible to keep the flight information secret up to the …

EAS IX: Additive Manufacturing Parts Flying on Airbuses

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Scott Sevcik, Aerospace and Defense Business Development Manager for Stratasys, gave EAS IX participants a look into the most advanced aircraft manufacturing techniques currently available, and what might be possible in the near future. Traditional manufacturing techniques have relied on subtractive techniques, starting with an aluminum billet, for instance, and sawing, filing and sanding away anything that doesn’t belong on the finished part.  Anyone who’s worked in a shop knows the barrels and buckets of metal shavings that fill up quickly.  What if there were no materials to be recycled at the end of a production run? Additive manufacturing (AM) is a way to produce parts that grow during the process, and that don’t leave much, or any, debris afterward.  …

EAS IX: Airbus Looks to a Light Electric Future

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Ken McKenzie, listed as Deputy Chairman of Airbus US, has served as Vice President for Airbus Customer Services and as Chief Operating Officer for Airbus Americas, Inc.  This high-powered individual comes across as a relaxed, congenial soul, though, and led attendees at the ninth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium through an overview of developments in light electric aircraft to come from the aviation giant. The e-Fan is the most visible effort for Airbus’s electric aircraft work so far, but the company is intent on carrying out a full E-aircraft program as part of its commitment to the European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 program,. which bullet-points these important goals for the next 35 years: “1. In 2050 technologies and procedures available allow a …

Good News and a Bright Future from EAS IX

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Sitting next to your editor for the first day of CAFE’s ninth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, Paul Bertorelli from AVweb, took copious notes, made sound recordings, and during coffee and lunch breaks and in after-hours sessions, interviewed the accomplished faculty at the Symposium.  His thorough and far-reaching reports appear in his last several days’ postings to AVweb.  Having stressed mightily while attempting to take understandable notes from each speaker’s talk, your editor can only be impressed by Paul’s super reportorial abilities, and his communicating the scope and importance of what took place at EAS IX. From your editor’s perspective, several significant things took place this year.  Senior leadership from Airbus and Siemens presented talks affirming their companies’ commitment to making …

Japan’s First Electric Aircraft

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, has been developing a multi-discipline approach to creating an electric light aircraft, much like efforts at Airbus.  Like Airbus, its first efforts use a modified existing airframe, the Diamond Dimona HK36 TTC-ECO motorglider.  Unlike Airbus, the organization has developed its own powerplant, reporting on March 14, 2014, that they had completed performance testing of the electronic propulsion system for small aircraft, in a final test program that lasted into late 2013. JAXA reports, “For the tests, researchers installed an aircraft motor system designed by JAXA in a 6.5-m x 5.5-m low-speed wind tunnel and measured motor shaft power, motor efficiency, propeller thrust, the temperatures of various motor system parts, and other values. The data …