Boeing Announces Zunum Progress, Acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Boeing made two announcements this week that show the maker of large aircraft willing to investigate niche markets at smaller scales and with more personal service for flyers.  Both involve electric power and the potential for automated flight. Zunum To Fly by 2020, In Service by 2022 Zunum Aero, the Boeing- and Jet Blue-backed regional airliner startup, will begin development of a 10-to-12 passenger airplane, hybrid powered with large electric ducted fans at the rear of the fuselage.  Having flown on earlier examples of 10-passenger “airliners,” your editor welcomes this smaller package.  Ford Trimotors and DeHavilland Dragons carried passengers in the 1930s, with simple accommodations and window seats for all.  The single-aisle made boarding and deplaning easy and quick, and …

Zunum Electric Airliners Get Nod from Boeing, Jet Blue

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Zunum aero, a startup in Kirkland, Washington, aims to fill the skies with small, quiet electric and hybrid airliners.  These range from a ten-passenger mini-liner to a 50-passenger craft similar to regional jets and feeder airliners.  Zunum is a Mayan word for hummingbird, and like those little speedsters, Zunum aircraft would make short hops efficiently and quietly – with just the hint of a buzz. Their sales pitch is enticing.  “Imagine leaving your doorstep in San Jose at 7 AM and making it to a 9:30 AM meeting in Pasadena. With Zunum Aero, simply drive to a nearby airfield and walk to your aircraft with bags in tow, for a trip that will take half the time and at a …

Airbus E-Fans 2.0 and 4.0 Dropped in Favor of E-Fan X

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Much like waiting for the single-person ram-jet helicopter to show up in your garage, you’ll be left hanging for a two- or four-seat Airbus e-Fan to grace your hangar.  Although not sharing the news in its “Innovation” or press release sections on its web site, Airbus has announced that it’s dropping plans to produce an E-Fan family of personal aircraft.  It will move instead into developing a larger, more powerful aircraft, the E-Fan X, that could fly within three years. Airbus started with a four-motor rendition of the Cri-Cri, four MGM Compro units twirling contra-rotating propellers and producing 60 horsepower.  Their “Innovation” program followed that with the tw0-seat E-Fan, and announced plans to build these in series at their cleverly named …

Paris to London Using No Fossil Fuels

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Jeff Engler fired up a start-up, Wright Electric, about a year ago.  Last week, he presented at the Y Combinator Winter 2017 Demo Day – a semi-annual event where venture capitalists can meet the latest in venturesome mendicants.  Tech Crunch describes the firm’s goals, which include electric flights between London and Paris on no fossil fuels – ambitious to say the least. “Wright Electric wants to build the world’s first electric airplane (at least the first 150 seat electric airliner). One of the main reasons airlines like Southwest can offer low fares is that they pre-purchase gas, but Wright sees an opportunity to make flights even cheaper by using electric planes instead. The company is targeting the 30 percent of …

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 …

Aurora Flight Sciences Win DARPA Award for Advanced VTOL

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Electric Aircraft Symposia attendees will be familiar with presentations by Dr. John S. Langford, Chairman and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, an aeronautical firm continuously redefining the leading edge of aerial technology.  He has shared the firm’s achievements in autonomous flight, with the company’s Centaur, a twin-engine light twin going from takeoff to landing at a distant airport without the need for pilot intervention. With other research projects on solar power, high altitude reconnaissance, and future “double-bubble” wide-body airliners, Aurora apparently showed enough innovative capacity to win an award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for its newest X-Plane, an unpiloted vertical takeoff and landing speedster called Lightning Strike. This Phase 2 award takes from a preliminary design …

Diamond’s Hybrid-Electric Tiltrotor

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Diamond Aircraft of Austria gave Flying magazine news of its hybrid-electric tiltrotor project – something not announced on Diamond’s own web site.  According to Flying, Diamond will partner with an unnamed “major industrial partner.”  The airplane could become certified within seven years, enabling customers to own a six-passenger vertical takeoff and landing vehicle with ostensibly high speed and the ability to set down virtually anywhere. Diamond founder and CEO Christian Dries says the craft will be powered by two high-output Siemens electric motors with power to recharge the batteries in flight supplied by a pair of Austro diesel engines.  Since there are four propellers, the motors’ outputs would probably be split fore and aft to a pair of rotors. The …

EAS IX: Aurora Flight Science Set Records without Pilots

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

John Langford, CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, has been demonstrating autonomous aircraft for years – a fact he has shared with Electric Aircraft Symposium audiences several times.  This year he gave a brief history of Aurora, starting with the Sunlight Eagle, an adaptation of the Michelob Light Eagle, a human-powered aircraft that preceded the most successful long-distance flight by an HPA – the Daedalus with a 76-mile trip over the Mediterranean. The 2009 craft was originally powered with bicycle-like pedals and still holds four world records for human-powered flight. For its two test flights at Las Cruces International Airport, the pedals were replaced with solar panels, an electric motor, a high-performance battery, and a flight control system.  Even with all …

EAS VIII: John Langford Shares a Wide Range of Skills

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. John S. Langford is the Chairman and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation, which he founded in 1989.  He has Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees from MIT in Aeronautics and other disciplines. While at MIT, he led a series of human-powered aircraft projects, culminating in the Daedalus Project, which in 1988 made a 72-mile flight between the Greek islands of Crete and Santorini.  He was just named 2014 winner of the National Aeronautics Association’s Cliff Henderson Trophy, awarded for “…a living individual, group of individuals, or an organization whose vision, leadership or skill made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation and aerospace in the United States.”   He shares the honor with earlier winners …

EAS VIII – A Day and a Half You’ll Never Forget

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Who would pass up a chance to stay at a nice resort, attend lectures that challenge and inspire, and meet at poolside with speakers who bring some of the sharpest minds in the world to bear on some of the biggest problems we all face?  Let’s face it.  Global warming probably won’t be going away anytime soon, and aviation seems destined to play a bigger part in polluting our otherwise near-perfect atmosphere. Unless…we learn how to make our favorite activity (in the top five for most of us, anyway), into a more responsible way to travel and recreate.  Since solving the problems which go with that responsibility will involve the best in aerodynamics, power systems and new, efficient technology, the …