Green Aviation at COP21

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power 0 Comments

COP21, the Congress of Parties 21 – the 21st gathering of nations and organizations working toward an agreement on reducing greenhouse gases, has concluded with what many conclude to be a historic turn from fossil fuels to cleaner, greener means of powering the world’s economy.  At a gala “SolutionsCOP21 – Celebrate the Champions Night” at the Grand Palais on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, leaders in demonstrating clean energy solutions were honored and awarded. Globe-straddling solar aviation and electric commuter helicopters showed a few of the environmentally conscientious directions aviation has taken and in which sustainable flight can take flight in the near future. Eraole, Mignet’s Formula Redefined Eraole, with its first motor run at COP21, is a tandem-winged cruiser that …

Solar Impulse Stays in Hawaii until Next Year

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A sign on the climb from Salem, Oregon to the Redmond/Bend area indicates that no gas or services exist for the next 52 miles.  It’s worth heeding, since the route goes over mountain passes, and in winter can require tire chains and sometimes long passages behind a snow plow.  Range anxiety happens even for those of us still plugging along in fossil-fueled vehicles. One of the ostensible advantages of Solar Impulse’s ability to charge itself, is that it has an endless supply of solar fuel and its batteries can make it through the night – depending on the relative lengths of day and night.  Making the longest flight of the round-the-world trip at high latitudes and during summer months was …

Solar Impulse – Tougher than it Looked

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The record-breaking flight from Nagoya, Japan to Kalaeloa, Hawaii by Andre’ Borschberg in Solar Impulse had more difficulties than were immediately apparent to even the most involved observer.  During the first climb out of Nagoya, some of the cells mounted behind each motor experienced overheating, now attributed to over-insulation.  High-density foam packed around the cells was apparently too effective for even the freezing temperatures at altitude and caused the batteries to become warmer than desired. As explained on the Solar Impulse web site, “The energy collected by the solar cells is stored in lithium polymer batteries, whose energy density is optimized to 260 [Watt-hours per kilogram]. The batteries are insulated by high-density foam and mounted in the four engine nacelles, …

Solar Impulse Breaks More Records, Attracts More Eyes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

At 79 hours into the flight Flight Director Michi Anger let viewers on Solar Impulse’s web site know that the “U-turns” the airplane performed were to get the maximum amount of solar energy in the plane – “That’s why it looks as if we’re facing the wrong direction.” “André got a good amount of rest during the last 12 hours, but we had some problems finding calm air. André had 300m of resting periods but could only sleep for 170m. The autopilot is designed to function only in calm air so we had to wake André up from the MCC. This is a rude awakening for him so it made it more difficult for him to go back into sleep. “André passed 76h 45min of flight, breaking Steve Fossett’s 2006 record for the …

Solar Impulse Passes Midway Islands

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

With the sun soon to rise in the Pacific, Solar Impulse 2 continues scooting at over 60 mph toward Honolulu as the third night comes to an end.  Significantly, Andre’ Borschberg and the 747-size plane have made it past the Midway Islands, once a stop-over for Pan-Am Boeing 314 “China Clippers.”  Even with their 3,500-mile range, those luxurious planes needed a fueling stop mid-way between Hawaii and China or Guam. The islands were important enough as a way station in the vast Pacific that one of the largest and most decisive battles of World War II took place near them.   In a battle terrible destructive to both sides, U. S. forces sank four Japanese carriers, essentially casting the fate of …

A Second Night on Solar Impulse

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

Pixar’s current film, Inside Out, depicts the emotions of an 11-year-old girl having her life disrupted by family circumstances.  Different voice actors depict Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness, emotions struggling for control within Headquarters (get it?).  Imagine your editor’s surprise to find that Solar Impulse’s Headquarters reports on its audience’s emotional state as part of the graphics which inform us about the flight’s progress – now in its second night over the North Pacific. Luckily, Andre’ Borschberg is a man of a well-disciplined character, with training in Yoga and self-hypnosis to help him benefit from the 20-minute rest periods that take the place of a normal night’s sleep.  But depending on events in the flight, those of us checking …

Solar Impulse Pulls a Fast One

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Confusion surrounded the takeoff of Solar Impulse 2 from Nagoya, Japan in Sunday’s early hours, with some news reports showing that the airplane had departed, but the project’s web site silent.  That was cleared up over nine hours into the flight, with revelations that Andre’ Borschberg and the control center in Monaco had spent hours resolving issues with the aircraft’s systems and determining that the flight would continue.  They did this without the press of the press adding to the tension. The team made crucial decisions regarding safety and system reliability and made the big choice to continue on the five day, five night voyage.  Weather conditions over the 8,340 kilometer (5,170 mile) course remain promising and motors, batteries and all …

There’s an Airplane in There Somewhere

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Looking like an igloo condominium, Solar Impulse’s inflatable hangar was hastily shipped to Nagoya Airport in Japan to protect the large, but vulnerable, machine from weather damage.  Before the temporary hangar could be installed, though, high winds caused part of the structure holding a cover over the right wing to hit the aileron and cause minor damage. Solar Impulse reports, “In the early hours of Tuesday 2 June as we were in the process of offloading the material and beginning to prepare the mount the mobile hangar, there were wind gusts which led to damage to SIB, on a small part of the wing. We do not see this as being a major issue, but we do not have a full evaluation of the time …

Solar Impulse: Bad News, Good News

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The Solar Impulse team had bad news today.  “Unfortunately the current weather window to reach Hawaii has closed. The cold front is too dangerous to cross, so we have decided to land in Nagoya Airfield, also known as Komaki Airport, and wait for better weather conditions in order to continue.” The good news came with the safe landing following a record 40 hours in the air for Andre’ Borschberg, who had ample opportunity to practice the self-hypnosis and meditation skills that help keep him sharp.  That the full flight would have added at least 80 hours to the endeavor seems less daunting now, since the Solar Impulse team handled the diversion to Nagoya calmly and professionally, even obtaining the services of a bicycle rider to …

Solar Impulse Readied for Pacific Test

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

With Andre’ Borschberg recuperating in Switzerland, Bertrand Piccard flew Solar Impulse 2 on the last leg of its China stay, making a 17 hour, 22 minute, 1,344 kilometer (725.7 nautical mile) flight between Chongquing and Nanjing.  The plane is being readied for its biggest leap so far, from Nanjing to Hawaii, a five-day mission that will test the endurance of the pilot and all systems of the giant ultralight aircraft. The Star, a Malaysian newspaper, reported what could be a growing concern.  “’Can we make the pilot sustainable as well?’ Andre Borschberg said by video link from Switzerland, where he is receiving treatment for health problems.”  He described his problems as “shingles,” with frequent migraines, both painful inflictions. “’This will …