HopFlyt Hops into the Next Decade

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

With 2020 lurching into life in some turbulence, HopFlyt promises a smooth, above-the-fray experience.  A look back at an innovative aircraft designer, the new variant applies electric power and new structural techniques unknown when Willard Custer had his inspiration.  HopFlyt is a modern interpretation of that vision, with distributed electric propulsion, 3D-printed components, and simplified control systems. Willard was a far-sighted soul in the 1940’s, when aircraft were either all wood, all sheet metal, or mixed structures of wood, chromoly tubing and fabric.  The composites that freed designers for swoopier things were a few decades away. Willard Custer’s Big Idea Reputedly a descendant of George Armstrong Custer, Willard Custer envisioned a propeller in a semi-circular channel that might produce lift …

NASA Freely Shares X57 Lessons

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

NASA and several partner firms have been working on the X-57 Maxwell electric propulsion demonstrator for the past several years.  It hasn’t been as easy as it looked at first.  Encouragingly, NASA is sharing some of the hard lessons it has learned in the process, much like Elon Musk sharing many of his patents with the world. One of the hardest lessons involved the multiple battery packs, originally planned to be off-the-shelf units.  A December 2016 test resulted in a thermal runaway, a situation in which one cell that overheats can self-destruct and cause adjacent cells to follow suit.  This, as we’ve seen in Dreamliner incidents, can be dangerous and potentially deadly.  Such fires are exceedingly well reported, with any Tesla …