Uber Elevate Summit Announces Sky Taxis by 2020

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

A scad of news about electric aircraft hit the internet and newsstands last week.  Even USA Today reported on the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas, Texas – held with many of the participants in the 2017 Sustainable Aviation Symposium a few days before. Big news came from Uber’s announcement that it intends to offer electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) air taxi service in Dallas and Dubai by 2020.  Bigger news for SAS participants is that it is partnering with Pipistrel and Aurora Flight Sciences, both presenting at the San Francisco event.  Jeff Holden, Uber’s chief product officer, said Bell Helicopters, Brazil’s Embraer, and Mooney Aircraft would also provide “concepts and technologies” for the near-term launch. According to Aviation Daily, …

Hybrid Aircraft – Several Empowering Possibilities

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

While we wait (with increasing patience or impatience depending on our personalities) for the next round of battery developments to make pure electric airplanes a reality, hybrid possibilities abound.  The definition of “hybrid” might not be as coherent as those used for automobiles.  Some “hybrids in this entry allow extended letdowns following a primary engine failure.  In that case, the added electric motor/generator gives extra minutes to find a safe landing space.  While both motor and primary engine are operational, the system acts much like an automotive hybrid system, both motor and engine combining outputs for added power, or the electrical portion recharging batteries while the engine maintains cruise power. Some are more like automotive serial systems, an engine-driven generator …

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 …

Cambridge Crude and Range Euphoria

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 1 Comment

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists have announced what they claim is a “Significant advance in battery architecture [that] could be breakthrough for electric vehicles and grid storage.”    According to a story by David L. Chandler from the MIT News Office, the new battery system is lightweight and inexpensive, and could make recharging “as quick and easy as pumping gas into a conventional car.” Seemingly requiring some active components within the battery, this “semi-solid flow cell” pumps solid particles suspended in a carrier liquid which form the cathodes and anodes through the system.  According to the MIT news item, “These two different suspensions are pumped through systems separated by a filter, such as a thin porous membrane.”  Mechanically more …

Drs. Seeley and Moore Hit One Out of the Airpark

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The January 2011 issue of Popular Mechanics resurrects the perennial hope for a flying automobile.  The cover taunts, “(Go Ahead, Laugh) But NASA, DARPA & the FAA Are Serious.”  Sharon Weinberger taunts some makers a bit in her article, “Driving on Air,” as she looks at a variety of Transformer-style vehicles that can travel by land or air with the fewest inconveniences.  She notes the differences between propelling cars and planes, and looks at extremely different modes of giving people personal aerial transport, including the Moeller Skycar (“Inventor Paul Moeller has been developing the concept for nearly 50 years.  To date, the M400X has only hovered on a tether.”), the Martin Jetpack, The Cartercopter, and the Terrafugia Transition that’s been …

Boeing SolarEagle – The Five-Year Flyer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Whether ferreting out insurgents in Afghanistan or monitoring agricultural trends in America, the ability to stay overhead and continue in a mission is of great importance for an aircraft providing aerial intelligence. Our recent stories about 200-foot span, hybrid electric HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) aircraft being tested at NASA Dryden Test Flight Center at Edwards Air Force Base showed a pair of large aircraft with the ability to stay up for a week, a persistence of overhead vision that is astonishing.  Now Boeing has announced a bigger, wildly more persistent vehicle, the SolarEagle, 435 feet in span, capable of floating around at 60,000 feet on solar/electric power for five years.  The 6,000 pound airframe can carry a payload of …