Facebook Unveils a Very Big, Very Light Electric Flying Wing

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is intent on providing at least basic Internet services to everyone in the world, even if means creating his own air force to accomplish that lofty goal. March 27, 2014, he shared his overall plan, including a large fleet of airplanes that would loiter in the stratosphere, beaming high-speed Internet connections to one and all. Just a few days ago, Zuckerberg announced the completion of the first full-scale aircraft for this grand plan, the Aquila.  Aquila has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but weighs in at around 400 kilograms (880 pounds).  Apparently built in England by his recently acquired team of aeronautical experts, Aquila will be able to stay in the air for months at a …

EAS IX to be A Gala Gathering

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Seeley sent this along today. On May 1, 2, 2015, the world’s leading experts will converge for the 9th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium in the beautiful Sonoma Wine Country. The confirmed presenters include: Airbus on “The e-Fan Design” Michigan’s Satki3 CEO Ann Marie Sastry on “Solid State Energy Storage” Italy’s Eric Raymond of GFC I Team-eGenius on “Sunstar and the SunSeeker Duo” Slovenia’s Tine Tomazic of GFC I Team Pipistrel USA on “Converting GA Aircraft to Electric Propulsion” UCR’s Zach Favors on “Beach Sand for Long Cycle Life Li-ion Batteries” Northrop-Grumman’s J. Philip Barnes on “Regenerative Electric Flight” NASA’s Dr. Eric Darcy on “Battery Safety” Ford/Ricardo’s Neil Johnson on “Li-ion BMS & Gauging” Launchpoint’s Michael Ricci on “Propulsion by …

A Cheerfully Acknowledged Chastisement

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

If one writes things, occasional slip-ups creep in.  In this case, an unchallenged assertion of who is “first” drew this kind email from Klaus Savier, builder, tuner and pilot of a very slippery Long-Eze.  He’s flown from California to Florida and back on good old fossil fuels (with one fuel stop each way) in his highly modified Long-Eze and achieved 30 miles per gallon at 250 miles per hour true airspeed.  It would be interesting to see how little fuel the airplane would consume at Green Flight Challenge airspeeds.  His demonstrated 0.36 pounds of fuel per horsepower-hour is claimed by Klaus to be 40-percent lower than the commonly seen 0.60 pounds per horsepower-hour that engines without his Light Speed Engineering …

It’s (Green Aviation) Giving Tuesday, 2014

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

If you’ve managed to survive Gray Thursday, Black Friday, and a weekend of NFL games stuffed with blandishments to entice you to the nearest mall (Thanksgiving happened in there somewhere), you’re forgiven if you flinch at yet one more presumptuous tug at your purse strings.  But we’re talking about helping pioneers on the edge of green technology, crafting the stuff dreams are made of – and making those dreams a reality.  On this Giving Thursday, think about contributing to the dream makers who are taking us into a better future of flight.   We share a few suggestions here. Solar Flight Eric and Irena Raymond are the first family of solar-powered flight, now cruising Italian skies in the world’s first two-seat …

Solar Flight SUNSTAR – a New High-Flyer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Eric Raymond has been designing and building solar-powered aircraft for 28 years, and flew Sunseeker 1 across the United State in 1990, Sunseeker 2 over the Alps in 2009, and has started touring Italy in the world’s first two-seat sun-powered aircraft, the Duo.  After three such outstanding efforts, what direction will his new design take? He took away any mystery on that today by unveiling his fourth aircraft, an optionally manned, high altitude platform, SUNSTAR.  Eric claims, “more performance potential than any of the other projects now under development. “Compared to other solar UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) being developed, the Sunstar promises higher flight speeds in a turbulence-tolerant design, for operation in real world conditions.” “Sunstar takes advantage of sailplane …

100 Percent Efficiency? Great! and So What?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A particularly brilliant and demanding manager for whom your editor used to work had a “SO WHAT?” stamp with which he would critique our technical papers and proposals.  His point in defacing our papers was not to be snide, but to force us to defend why we included certain facts – interesting though they may be in themselves. Two different and equally brilliant discoveries by University of Cambridge and University of California, Riverside researchers bring the “so what?” stamp to mind.  Even with their breakthroughs, approaching 100-percent efficient solar cells in the first instance, solar cells may not yet be a perfect fit for aircraft propulsion. Each square foot of the earth’s surface receives about 15 Watts of solar energy …

Irena Raymond on Flying the Sunseeker Duo

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A few days after posting the entry on the Raymond’s first cross country flight in their new solar-powered Sunseeker Duo, your editor received followups from Irena and Eric.  First, Irena shares her impressions of what sounds like a beautiful flight. “Our XC flight with Duo was a great experience. “First of all, because I don’t like too many surprises, I tried to prepare myself as best as possible for this expedition. I was studying the aeronautical chart to get more familiar with the Italian airspace and possible restrictions, looking also at the terrain and possible out landings (just in case. of course). “And then the day of our flight was coming, bringing us a clear, sunny morning. At the noon …

The Raymonds Make the First Two-Passenger Solar-Powered Cross Country Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Eric Raymond shared this story of a short cross-country flight between his home field of Voghera, Italy and the town of Pavullo, about 100 air miles away.  It’s significant in being the first cross-country solar-powered flight for two, Eric’s wife Irena sharing flying duties.  The “normal” nature of the trip and the practicality of the airplane show that Eric is expanding his pioneering efforts from his initial flight across the United States in 1990 and his trip across the Alps in 2009 – all on solar power.   He’s received precious little attention in the press for these sublime journeys, a situation we hope to redeem here. “Irena and I just returned from an overnight trip in our new plane, our …

Sunseeker Duo Goes Dual

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Irena Raymond became the first passenger of a solar-powered airplane recently, even taking over control of the Sunseeker Duo she and husband Eric built over the last several years.  Her thoughts provoke awe and envy. “Flying the Duo, skimming the white fluffy clouds from above and playing on the sky, I feel like a bird. No limitations, a pure freedom. It’s so quiet! Compared to a normal airplane, it’s like night and day. You need a very good headset in every other powered airplane, but in this airplane you can speak normally even when the motor is running full power, no headset needed. It is unbelievable.” Eric provides some hard data to complement Irena’s understandably poetic words.  “I am expanding the …

EAS VIII: Barnaby Wainfan and ESTOL Possibilities

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Barnaby Wainfan is an aeronautical engineer with Northrop Grumman and famous for at least two things: his Edison 2, a light car with incredibly low Cd  that won the Progressive Automotive X-Prize in the Mainstream class and his FMX-4 Facetmobile, an airplane that looks like a private pilot’s F-117 and flies stably and safely.  (Video courtesy of Barnaby Wainfan.) Wainfan told the eighth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium audience that short takeoff and landing (STOL) performance is relatively easy, requiring low wing loading and high power.  Efficient (e)STOL is harder. The problem is getting a reasonable cruise speed and good range with the big wing required for short takeoffs and the high drag required for short landings.  He advised his audience …