A Lighter, Zippier Tire for Electric Airplanes?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Tires are not usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of airplane design.  On most aircraft, the landing gear is an awkward necessity, something to help one get airborne and settle on after committing aviation.  Our future electric aircraft might have power-driven wheels to shorten takeoff and landing distances, making them less inconvenient and more beneficial. Conventional rubber tires and wheels are heavy, though, and reducing their avoirdupois would enable better performance from a lighter airplane, or allow more batteries for longer range or better performance.  Dr. Brien Seeley, founder and President of the CAFE Foundation, wants to visit the best of all possible tire worlds by exploring the potential of polyurethane tires, reducing the need for …

Five Student Teams Show Five Possible Ways to Electric Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

What will future airplanes look like?  Exciting, sleek and beautiful, if the five winners of a recent NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) challenge are any indicator.  Graduates and undergraduates were asked to design a four-seat, electrically-powered craft that “could carry at least 400 pounds of extra cargo, fly at least 575 miles during a single flight, cruise at a speed of at least 150 mph and be able to take off in less than 3,000 feet under normal conditions.”  Current materials and motors were undoubtedly intended, since the airplanes had to be ready to go into service by 2020 and be competitive with currently-available “standard piston-engine airplanes that burn fossil fuel.” This is definitely a challenge, and the students not …

13th Annual Personal Aircraft Design Academy Meeting Honors Popov

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

At the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture, a week of grand aviation events comes to a close with the annual Personal Aircraft Design Academy meeting.  Each year, an individual or group who has contributed significantly to the progress of personal aviation receives a trophy in recognition of that contribution.  Your editor could not be there this year, but CAFE President Brien Seeley officiated and shares this report. “The Personal Aircraft Design Academy (PADA) convened its 13th annual meeting on July 24 at 7:30 p. m. in the EAA Vette Theatre. After nominations and voting by members of the PADA Board, the group presented the perpetual PADA Trophy to Boris Popov for his career-long achievements in bringing forth ballistic recovery systems for aircraft. Boris …

Siemens Makes a Big, Light Motor

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Its 14 kilogram (30.8 pound), 85 kilowatt (114 horsepower) motor already graces the nose of the PIpistrel WattsUp, and Siemens seems to have expanded its aeronautical offerings with its new 50 kilogram (110 pound), 260 kilowatt (348.5 hp.) unit.  According to Dr. Frank Anton, Head of eAircraft at Siemens Corporate Technology, the new motor “make[s] it possible to build series hybrid-electric aircraft with four or more seats.” Siemens claims a world record of five kilowatts per kilogram, although Roman Susnik, with his Emrax motors pulling close to 10 kilowatts per kilogram, might contest that, and LaunchPoint is working toward eclipsing that mark.  To be fair, it’s certainly a giant boost over the power-to-weight ratio of most industrial-type electric motors, which …

Getting a GloW On

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Great Britain has recently allowed very light aircraft to fly under SSDR (Single-Seat DeRegulated) rules, which permit single-seat aircraft with an MTOM (maximum take-off mass) of not more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) and a landing speed of not more than 35 knots (40.27 mph or 64.82 kilometers per hour).  With weights and speeds a bit higher than those allowed for American ultralights, these would be desirable as a way to expand the number of aircraft flying under ultralight rules.  How a machine such as the ProAirsport’s GloW will be regulated in America remains to be seen. Formed in 2014, ProAirsport will built light aircraft around the new British rules while adopting ASTM F2564, Standard Specification for Design and Performance …

Powering Imagination at the Museum of Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Powering Imagination, a symposium devoted to that premise and to encouraging the development of electric aviation, achieved both goals on Saturday, February 28 at Seattle’s Museum of Flight.  Organized by Erik Lindbergh and Eric Bartsch, the gathering included two panel discussions and eight presentations that helped define where the world of electric flight might be heading.  Between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., presenters covered a lot of ground. Following Cale Wilcox, the Public Programs Coordinator for the Museum’s, introduction, Erik Lindbergh took the stage to explain the goals of the Powering Imagination organization, including making aviation clean, quiet, exciting and affordable.  This democratization of flight mirrors aspirations of the CAFE Foundation and is reflected in the educational efforts made by …

It’s (Green Aviation) Giving Tuesday, 2014

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

If you’ve managed to survive Gray Thursday, Black Friday, and a weekend of NFL games stuffed with blandishments to entice you to the nearest mall (Thanksgiving happened in there somewhere), you’re forgiven if you flinch at yet one more presumptuous tug at your purse strings.  But we’re talking about helping pioneers on the edge of green technology, crafting the stuff dreams are made of – and making those dreams a reality.  On this Giving Thursday, think about contributing to the dream makers who are taking us into a better future of flight.   We share a few suggestions here. Solar Flight Eric and Irena Raymond are the first family of solar-powered flight, now cruising Italian skies in the world’s first two-seat …

EAS VIII: Bruno Mombrinie and Dr. Brien Seeley – Economies and Practical Considerations for Sky Taxis

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Bruno Mombrinie, a director for the CAFE Foundation, and Dr. Brien Seeley, founder and President of the organization, gave a one-two presentation on pocket airports and Sky Taxis that examined the practical and operational facets of such a program, first described in detail in a joint NASA/CAFE Foundation document.  According to Bruno’s CAFE biography, “As a freshman, he helped build MIT’s Chrysalis human powered airplane. Later that summer he got to fly the plane several times. ‘The feeling of being so, so high (39ft)…to fly under my own power was beyond…I just wanted to burst…actually I was so out of breath from the effort, I could hardly mouth ‘yippee!’”  (The Chrysalis, and other MIT designs led to Daedalus, the HPA that flew from Crete …

Sunseeker Duo Goes Dual

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Irena Raymond became the first passenger of a solar-powered airplane recently, even taking over control of the Sunseeker Duo she and husband Eric built over the last several years.  Her thoughts provoke awe and envy. “Flying the Duo, skimming the white fluffy clouds from above and playing on the sky, I feel like a bird. No limitations, a pure freedom. It’s so quiet! Compared to a normal airplane, it’s like night and day. You need a very good headset in every other powered airplane, but in this airplane you can speak normally even when the motor is running full power, no headset needed. It is unbelievable.” Eric provides some hard data to complement Irena’s understandably poetic words.  “I am expanding the …

Dr. Shin to Keynote Electric Aircraft Symposium

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Dr. Jaiwon Shin, NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics, will close the Friday, April 25 session of the eighth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium with his keynote address, “The NASA Aeronautics Vision and Strategy – How It Relates to Electric Aircraft.”  As Associate Administrator, Dr. Shin “manages the agency’s aeronautics research portfolio and guides its strategic direction,” according to his official NASA biography.  He co-chairs the National Science & Technology Council’s Aeronautics Science & Technology Subcommittee, a group of federal departments and agencies that fund aeronautics-related research. Its first presidential policy for aeronautics research and development (R&D) was ratified by Executive Order 13419 in December 2006, and now guides such research until 2020.  Dr. Shin oversees and sets policies for an array …