SmartFlyer – an Electric Four-Seater?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The people behind the Smartflyer, a Swiss design concept now under development ask, “Why does the Smartflyer look like this?  With a tail-mounted electric motor, it’s a bit reminiscent of e-Genius, and also a bit like a strutless Rutan Skigull.  In fact, the basic configuration has been used on many significant aircraft over the last several decades, as a segment of Smartflyer’s web site shows. As Herr Professor Dipl-Ing. Rudolf Voit-Nitschmann, Project Leader on e-Genius explained, several benefits accrue from this arrangement of aerodynamic elements. Compared to a conventional touring motor glider a substantial larger propeller-diameter can be realized without a high and consequentially heavier undercarriage. Therefore the propeller-efficiency will increase. The front body part has the aerodynamic quality of a modern glider (no …

EAS IX: Dr. Seeley’s Magnum Opus

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Your editor first met Dr. Brien Seeley, founder and President of the CAFE Foundation, at the Western Workshop for the Experimental Soaring Association in 2007.  Dr. Seeley spoke about the CAFE Foundation and its many areas of research, including its first two Electric Aircraft Symposiums.  Seven years later these events and this blog are among the few resources for people seeking information on this developing field. He spoke then about a novel idea, an aerial taxi service that would eventually become fully autonomous, hauling people on short-to-medium range trips in small, electric aircraft that would fly out of very small airports.  This seemed a bit of science-fiction at the time, but Dr. Seeley has continued to promote this idea, gaining …

EAS IX: Calin Gologan Talks SolarStratos 

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Calin Gologan, founder and CEO of PC-Aero GmbH, has many electric and solar-assisted aircraft flying right now, and is responsible for the design the Aero Electric Aircraft Company’s SunFlyer training airplane, 20 of which have been ordered by Spartan Aeronautical University.  The initial Elektro One has flourished in a number of variants, including the SunFlyer, a two-seat, side-by side trainer developed with George Bye in Colorado. Another variant of that original design, Solar Stratos is destined to combine record-setting altitudes with scientific research.  Its banner, “Manned Flight at the Edge of Space,” highlights the craft’s intended mission to reach 80,000 feet as its initial goal, a record that will be hard to beat.  Its mission is also a research venture, …

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 …

Firefly Flies with New Motor and Who Knows What Else?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Jean-Luc Soullier and Roman Marcinowski forge ahead on two fronts to set electric flight records.  Longer term, we hope to see first flights of their motorized Windward Performance Duckhawk, modified for long-distance flights and a crossing of the Atlantic Ocean – perhaps as early as next year. In the meantime, they are putting the finishing touches on their already record-setting Colomban MC-30 Luciole (Firefly), now with its third motor, significantly larger and more powerful than previous powerplants.  Making an initial test flight on October 30, Jean-Luc managed an impressive climb rate, even at partial power. Last year, the team stated their hoped-for records to come. Our next targets are : Spring/Summer 2014 New FAI world records : – Speed : minimum …

Adam and Jamie are Paying Attention

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Seeley alerted your editor this morning that Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman’s web site, Tested.com, featured an entry on electric aircraft, “Fuel-Free Flight: the State of Electric Airplanes,” by Terry Dunn.  Dunn does a good job of covering history and advantages of electric aircraft – complete with a quote from Dr. Seeley about the good neighbor aspect of quiet electric airplanes. He also discusses the barriers to electric aircraft development beyond current motor gliders and light aircraft – mainly the question of obtaining batteries that have much better energy densities than those currently available. “The batteries currently available are adequate to provide suitable range for some flyers. As the pool of available batteries improves, so will the range of …

Sion Power, Airbus, UAE Team Up to Set Dubai Altitude Record

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

First, let’s get the new acronym out of the way.  The solar-powered flyer recently setting records in Dubai is part of the Airbus High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) program.  One headline led off with “What’s the HAPS?” leaving your editor saddened by not having thought of it first.  Such craft were previously referred to as HALEs (High Altitude Long Endurance) platforms. It’s also part of the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), a kind of Middle-Eastern STEM program promoting technological advancement and sustainable development in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The airplane set three world records in 2010, flying over the desert Southwest in America as part of Qinetiq’s development program.  It managed 336 hours 22 minutes …

WATTsUP at Pipistrel

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

No, that’s a statement and not a question.  Taja Boscarol of Pipistrel sent the following announcement this morning.  WATTsUP, their new two-seat electric trainer took its maiden flight on August 8th.  As part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, Pipistrel will display the airplane at the Salon de Blois airshow, France, on 30-31 August 2014. This is the third announcement of an electric trainer by a major aircraft manufacturer, counting Airbus with its anticipated e-Fan developments and American Electric Aircraft Corporation (AEAC) with its Sun Flyer.  We could count four with Adventure Aircraft’s EMG-6 under development in California for the ultralight market.  This would mark a potentially historic turnaround for General Aviation, with promised operating costs significantly lower than for internal-combustion …

FAA Says “No” To Electric Aircraft Passengers

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Many voluminous government documents hold single paragraphs of great importance to the affected parties.  In the case of the FAA’s 322-page Draft Policy 8130(H), a few lines will probably spark intense interest in the small but growing electric aircraft community. According to AVWeb.com and verified in Flying magazine, “The FAA is proposing banning passengers from flights in electric-powered aircraft  and ready-to-fly Light Sport aircraft (SLSA) that have been converted to experimental Light Sport (ELSA) aircraft and stopping the aircraft from flying over built up areas or at night.” The Light Aircraft Manufacturer’s Association (LAMA) cites the following and endorses an activist approach to resisting the restrictions: “On page 293 under Clause ‘5. Procedure’ it provides a table by aircraft type for …

An Electrolyte Gel Sandwich

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Sekisui Chemical Co., Ltd. makes a wide variety of plastics, films, and active chemical components.  Whipping up something light and powerful in their kitchen must often be a matter of tossing available ingredients into a new recipe.  In this case, they’ve come up with something unique and potentially highly useful. Their research and development center director Satoshi Uenoyama announced “a high-capacity film-type lithium-ion battery “using a coating process that has simultaneously tripled its capacity (compared to other Sekisui Chemical products), increase its safety (as a result of standard safety testing, e.g. no problems with nail penetration tests or crush tests) and speeded up production by ten times (compared to other Sekisui Chemical products).” The company continues comparisons with its products, suggesting lithium-ion conductivity for the …