Biggest, Fastest 3D Printed Airplane So Far

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials 1 Comment

Unveiled at the Dubai Air Show this week, the collaborative effort between Stratasys and Aurora Flight Sciences is the largest and fastest 3D-printed aircraft so far.  With a 9-foot wingspan and weighing 30 pounds, the unmanned aerial vehicle is also the first jet aircraft to be made through additive manufacturing. 80 percent by weight was made through the advanced process, the rest consisting of the engine, electronics and tires.  Because the airplane was designed in a collaborative computer aided design process, the parts could be printed in Stratasys’ facilities even though they were designed primarily in Aurora’s Virginia headquarters. Besides saving weight, the process saves time, the complete aircraft going from initial idea to first flight in under nine months. …

A Twin-Motored Ultralight Flying Wing – It’s the New Millennium

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Richard Glassock, an Australian now living and working in Hungary, sent the links to YouTube videos of a Millennium hang glider, neatly electrified and flown at this year’s Santa Cruz Salt Flats Race.  Richard has been a speaker at the Electric Aircraft Symposium with a talk on his efforts with small hybrid electric power systems for large-scale models and small aircraft. Steve Morris, co-designer of the Millennium along with Ilan Kroo, Brian Porter, Brian Robbins, and Erik Beckman helped develop this rigid-wing hang glider to offer a lighter, more portable version of Swift.  Steve reported on his electric-powered Swift at the 2010 Electric Aircraft Symposium. Ilan Kroo reflected on the idea of practical, powered ultralight sailplanes in his American Institute …

Chip Yates in a New Role

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

We are used to seeing Chip Yates breaking records – speed records, mostly – but there is a side to Chip that comes as a surprise to most, and his new position as Vice President of Marketing for Norsk Titanium AS (NTi) might come as a shock beyond surprise.   Chip continues with his other enterprises, noting, “Yates Electrospace Corporation was awarded a development contract for the U.S. Marine Corps to design and prepare to build a 1,000 pound payload, disposable drone to resupply troops in harm’s way!” NTi prides itself on being, “The first U.S.-based 3D printing company capable of producing complex titanium components that will meet aerospace quality requirements. The patented additive manufacturing technology uses titanium wire feedstock …

The Man Who Made This Blog Possible

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

Your editor received this sad announcement yesterday from Andy Kecskes, editor of the Sailplane Builder newsletter, forwarded from Murry Rozansky, President of the Experimental Soaring Association. “Bruce Carmichael passed peacefully with his family by his side on Tues. I am glad that our and the other soaring organizations honored his contributions before this sad event. Bruce was 91+years old, an accomplishment in itself.  There will be a celebration of Bruce’s life on Sat. Aug. 15th at 10:30 am at Palisade’s Methodist Church, 27002 Camino de Estrella, Capistrano Beach, CA.  Reception to follow services.”  Please RSVP to; georgianatives@yahoo.com.” Bruce was a pioneer in low-Reynolds number aerodynamics, and had been influential in the design of many record-breaking and visionary aircraft.  He is listed …

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 …

EAS IX: Chip Erwin Gets Personal with Electric Flying

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), alas, haven’t lived up to their early hype, 100 manufacturers selling only 235 units in the United States last year.  That bothers Chip Erwin, who would like a Personal Sport Aircraft (PSA) option.  He’s working through his company, Aeromarine LSA, to do something about that. Chip explains that high prices for LSAs, brought on by doubling Rotax prices over the last decade and quadrupling of once cheap European labor rates, has put what were to be $50,000 airplanes into the $150,000 price range, barely able to compete with used Cessnas and Pipers. Having demonstrated two-stroke engines and an Electravia motor on his imported Zigolo ultralight glider, he has displayed an alternative motor designed by Don Lineback, …

EAS IX: JoeBen Pulls off a Hat Trick

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

JoeBen Bevirt, founder and head of Joby Aviation and Joby Motors , is obviously a workaholic, and not only gave a talk at EAS IX, but had an example of his Lotus unpiloted aerial vehicle at the AUVSI (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) conference in Atlanta, Georgia on the same weekend. Two weeks before that, his demonstration wing for the LEAPTech program was speeding across the desert at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC), Edwards Air Force Base in California. JoeBen told Symposium attendees all about his S2 personal aerial commuter and LEAPTech, a joint development with NASA. Part of the LEAPTech program has included building a truck platform for testing the 18-motor wing.  This is a fascinating bit of engineering …

EAS IX: Mike Ricci Explains PWB, Safety

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

Dreamliner battery nightmares have troubled the dreams of electric flight for the past two years.  Michael Ricci, Vice President of Engineering with LaunchPoint Technologies, gave attendees at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium a crash course (pun intended) in the many types of failure modes electric aircraft face.  Luckily, he also provided ways to mitigate and eliminate those failure modes. He introduced a concept called “Propulsion by Wire” (PBW), the main thrust for electric aircraft and roughly akin to the commonly discussed “Fly by Wire” concept.  Asking what product specifications for electric propulsion will look like, he answered his own rhetorical question with the technical requirements for reasonable interaction, a useful user interface, airworthiness, and safety. Starting with the last issue …

EAS VIII: Avetik Haryutunyan and Lithium Storage Capacity in Large Nanostructures

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Although “large nanostructures” may sound like the same kind of oxymoron as “jumbo shrimp,” such things are relative even at the smallest of scales.  Dr. Avetik Haryutunyan, Chief Scientist in the Materials Science Division of Honda Motors in Columbus, Ohio, shared a small part of the knowledge contained in his numerous publications and patents with the audience at the eighth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium last April.  He reviewed experimental approaches to creating high lithium storage in carbon nanostructures, with the ideal of providing scientists and commercial developers usable materials and products. He reviewed the many experimental approaches to enhancing energy storage with lithium, attempting to achieve reproducibility and irreversibility, two touchstones of scientific validation. Dr. Haryutunyan explained that with 14 …

EAS VIII: Joby Motors – on Simple and Complex Airframes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, Joby Motors, and related enterprises, has thought long and hard about the financial costs and lost productivity brought about by the daily automotive commute, a 1.6 hour per day ordeal for many in our urban centers.  JoeBen and the Atlantic magazine agree that commuters squander 5.5 billion hours and 2.9 billion gallons of fuel annually, stuck in the fitful despair of slow or unmoving traffic, sharing only frustration and polluted air with their fellow motorists. JoeBen told attendees at the April Electric Aircraft Symposium that several years before, he had the seeming pipe dream of moving people by air in a single-seat, eight-motorm, vertical takeoff and landing, electric commuter aircraft that would …