Less Expensive Batteries May Lead to More Homebuilt Electric Airplanes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

It came as somewhat of a shock that high-quality lithium battery prices could drop low enough to encourage electric aircraft developers an opportunity to “scrounge” in the style of the original home-built airplane builders.  Early aircraft “home-builders” often cannibalized war-surplus aircraft or wrecks of private planes for parts and materials that could be adapted into their own designs.  Ground power units (GPUs), for instance, became an early supply point for engine cores that could be converted to aircraft use – possible on “Experimental” homebuilts, although frowned upon by the FAA for factory-builts. Your editor thought at one point that auto wrecking yards might provide a source of used batteries for experimental electric airplanes, but the thought of all the internal …

Randall Fishman’s ElectraFlyer ULS – a Gateway Plane

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Appearing before attendees at the 2013 Electric Aircraft Symposium, Randall Fishman’s spoke of great accomplishments and grander visions.  “ElectraFlyer ULS & Electric Ultralight Airplanes, the path to approval for all electric aircraft?” showed ElectraFlyer’s history and the ambitions Randall would like to play out. A pioneer in ultralights, Randall has been flying hang gliders since 1972, produced the first continuously powered electric aircraft, flew the first electric airplane at Oshkosh’s AirVenture and claims a primary interest of bringing practical, user-friendly electric flight to as many people as possible. Between 2005 and 2007, he designed, built and test flew his first electrically-powered trike.  Making its first take-off on April 29, 2007, by May 2 it had made a one-hour flight.  Ever …

A Fix for Dreamliner Battery Woes?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

With Boeing facing financial doldrums because of its ongoing grounding and resulting slump in sales of the 787 Dreamliner, the stakes are high for the company.  That makes today’s Reuters’ report that the manufacturing giant may have found a “way to fix battery problems on its grounded 787 Dreamliner jets” good news for not only Boeing, but for electric aircraft in general.  Readers should read these findings with some caution, though, since another report from Japan gives a different possible cause for the problems.  That said, the two reports might not be mutually exclusive. Many electric light aircraft developers use spacing between cells and some method to circulate cooling air over them.  In Boeing’s two 787 lithium battery packs, eight …

ElectraFlyer’s Near Future Plans

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 3 Comments

ElectraFlyer’s Randall Fishman and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University were the lone inhabitants with aircraft on hand at the “green aviation” display at Sun n’ Fun, exhibiting the modified Stemme and the ElectraFlyer “C” respectively.  Having been within a few displays’ distance from the Thursday tornado that destroyed 69 aircraft, damaged many others, and dismantled marquees all around, they were probably fortunate to be there at all. Having decided to leave his two-seat ElectaFlyer X back at the shop, Randall had his four-year-old ElectraFlyer on hand, an airplane which hides what he describes as the only currently available electric motor, controller, instrumentation, custom propeller hub, and battery package in its neatly cowled nose, and which has been available for years before …

Ultralight and Electric – The Red Tail Hawk

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Many of us dream of retiring and pursuing the dreams that sustained us during our careers.  One man has done that with the kind of work ethic that makes retirement highly productive.  He maintains two web sites; a Yahoo group dedicated to his latest homebuilt electric sailplane, and a more inclusive overview of his many aeronautical projects. Jerry Booker took early retirement from the architectural technology profession, and having grown up on a farm, “enjoyed ‘green’ living, with a lot of physical activity, and now [lives] in the farm country in central Illinois.” Designing and building even a simple airplane is a task that requires the willingness to learn and explore new ideas, and if that craft includes an electric powerplant, a …

A Manned Swift Takes Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Uncategorized 3 Comments

Dr. Steve Morris is President of MLB Co., an enterprise specializing in low-cost, compact, remotely piloted and autonomous aerial surveillance, mapping and monitoring systems.  On December 23, 2009, he and his associates test flew their first man-carrying, directly-piloted craft – an electric one. Pilot Brian Porter made two flights totalling about 20 minutes in a part 103 ultralight Swift hang glider to which was attached a custom-built pilot/powerplant/landing gear module.  Power was by a Randall Fisher-supplied ElectraFlyer motor coupled to a reduction system built by Dr.  Morris and his associates at MLB. Despite limitation imposed by the motor controller’s maximum current and propeller efficiency limited to 65-75 percent, the airplane demonstrated performance within 10 percent of calculations.  Its rate of climb was 335 feet per minute, …