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 Leave a Comment

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 …

Another Two-Seat Electric Airplane from China

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 1 Comment

China has a second two-seat electric airplane, the Rui Xiang RX1E, a high-wing, side-by-side craft similar to Yuneec’s E430.  Both are cantilever, high-winged configurations, with the Yuneec sporting a V-tail and the RX1E a T-tail.  Besides the difference in alphabetical empennages, perhaps something gets lost in translation, with several news items offering slightly different versions of this story. The English language version of the China News Service calls the RX1E China’s first electric aircraft, although it’s being introduced at least four years after the E430.   Most reports agree that it is designed by the Liaoning General Aviation Institute and that Shenyang Aircraft Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Under the Rui Xiang General name is responsible for manufacturing. Made of carbon fiber composite …

Tehachapi 2013 – Baby Bowlus and Silent Electro

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Tehachapi is a one-time railroad stop, 4,000 feet in the high mountain desert near Mojave, California.  Trains don’t stop there very often these days, but multi-engined, two-mile-long bearers of cargo and commerce run over the tracks 50 times a day, making the long haul toward Bakersfield or Mojave. Hawley Bowlus helped build the Spirit of St. Louis and later taught the Lindberghs to fly sailplanes, with some lessons taking place in the high desert air above Tehachapi.  Today, the once bare hills are covered with over 5,000 wind turbines, their giant rotors pointed into the prevailing westerlies.  At the base of these hills, Mountain Valley Soaring has a base, and Jeff Byard has a hangar that hosts the annual meeting …

Plettenberg’s New Motors – Ready for Real Airplanes?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 5 Comments

Plettenberg is well known in the model airplane world for its large and powerful electric motors that pull or push giant-scale models – sometimes half the size of their real counterparts – into the air.  Brian Carpenter of Rainbow Aviation is even using them on his EMG-5 and EMG-6 ultralight aircraft.  Jean-Luc Soullier had two of them on an electric Cri-Cri.  His forum details that adventure and subsequent projects.  These Predator motors weigh a little over four pounds and can put out 15 horsepower and up to 99 pounds of thrust with the right propeller. Going beyond their model motors, Plettenberg has bold thoughts to share about its new, bigger and less model-like units, including their 150 kilowatt Nova series …

What a Month This Will Have Been

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

With Solar Impulse descending on Washington, D. C., the Cross USA flight reached a symbolic conclusion, bringing the future to a capitol that seems resistant to even modest change, let alone radical departures from current, conventional reality. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n64tAJs_c8w With one hop to go in its journey, Solar Impulse has spread the message of what might be if we have the will to overcome the inertia brought about by our well-lobbied legislature. Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard have one more opportunity to challenge the world to adopt green energy when Solar Impulse goes to New York City. Monday, they met with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, with whom they participated in an energy roundtable and news conference about the technology that made …

Solar Impulse Soars Over the Golden Gate

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

This photograph, by J. Revillard for the Solar Impulse project, speaks well more than a thousand words.  It exemplifies the aspirations those of us feel who want to see the skies filled with quiet, efficient aircraft.  If the individuals who’ve made this beautiful sight possible want to inspire others, they’ve succeed admirably. Follow the flight of Solar Impulse across America and see more pictures here.  

Floating Over the Danube: The Vision of the Little Tailor of Ulm Lives

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The beautiful blue Danube River of Strauss waltz fame, “…Rises in the Black Forest mountains of western Germany and flows for some 1,770 miles (2,850 kilometers) to its mouth on the Black Sea. Along its course, it passes through nine countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. In 1811, Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger, a tailor in the city of Ulm near the headwaters of the second longest river in Europe, tried a novel idea – flying across the river on a nicely sewn-together hang glider.  His splashdown marked the end of his aeronautical career, but made him famous and an unlikely harbinger of things to come. City fathers have announced, “In the spirit of Berblinger, and continuing his vision, the City of Ulm aims to promote …

Panthera rollout and first engine start

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

On March 28, Pipistrel rolled out its prototype Panthera, a sleek four-seat cruiser destined to be the first production hybrid aircraft and eventually, Pipistrel’s second four-seat electric airplane. It is currently powered by a Lycoming IO-390, 210 horsepower engine.  At Pipistrel’s factory in Ajdovscina, Slovenia a team of engineers and technicians fired up the engine for the first time and performed ground runs, “verifying design parameters and engine operation.” Pipistrel’s press release quotes Ivo Boscarol, their CEO: “It is very exciting to witness the tests and see the aeroplane come to life for the very first time. This is definitely a very important milestone in the development of Panthera. We look forward to the continuation of tests and the first …