Solar Impulse – Tougher than it Looked

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The record-breaking flight from Nagoya, Japan to Kalaeloa, Hawaii by Andre’ Borschberg in Solar Impulse had more difficulties than were immediately apparent to even the most involved observer.  During the first climb out of Nagoya, some of the cells mounted behind each motor experienced overheating, now attributed to over-insulation.  High-density foam packed around the cells was apparently too effective for even the freezing temperatures at altitude and caused the batteries to become warmer than desired. As explained on the Solar Impulse web site, “The energy collected by the solar cells is stored in lithium polymer batteries, whose energy density is optimized to 260 [Watt-hours per kilogram]. The batteries are insulated by high-density foam and mounted in the four engine nacelles, …

There’s an Airplane in There Somewhere

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Looking like an igloo condominium, Solar Impulse’s inflatable hangar was hastily shipped to Nagoya Airport in Japan to protect the large, but vulnerable, machine from weather damage.  Before the temporary hangar could be installed, though, high winds caused part of the structure holding a cover over the right wing to hit the aileron and cause minor damage. Solar Impulse reports, “In the early hours of Tuesday 2 June as we were in the process of offloading the material and beginning to prepare the mount the mobile hangar, there were wind gusts which led to damage to SIB, on a small part of the wing. We do not see this as being a major issue, but we do not have a full evaluation of the time …

Solar Impulse in Mandalay for a Productive Week

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

After a 13-hour flight from Varanasi, India, to Mandalay (VYMD) in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Bertrand Piccard and Andre’ Borschberg have now had more press conferences than landings, giving a clue as to the real mission of Solar Impulse 2. Flights thus far have been fairly uneventful, which is a plus in any pilot’s logbook.  The two pilots seem to be busier when they touch down, first finding themselves surrounded by media, then attending a series of events in which they talk about their visions for a better, cleaner future.  In Myanmar, that includes sharing the benefits of the high technology of Solar Impulse’s solar collectors with a country that lacks electricity in 70 percent of its …

Solar Impulse on First Leg of Epic Tour

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse 2, under the control of André Borschberg, took off at 7:12 a. m. (03:12 UTC) Abu Dhabi time, on the first leg of its around-the-world voyage.  The roughly 400 kilometers (215 nautical miles) between Abu Dhabi and Muscat, Oman – the airplane’s first stop – takes less than an hour by airliner and around five hours (according to Google Maps) by Maybach or lesser motor vehicle.  It took André nine hours, one minute for this leg, traveling at ultralight speeds.  His landing was tweeted as looking like a UFO descending, LED landing lights ablaze and advancing slowly overhead.  In the control room, Bertrand Piccard and His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco followed the flight with advice and …

Solar Impulse 2 in Readiness for Around-the-World Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Reassembled and ready, Solar Impulse 2 stands ready to leave Abu Dhabi on an historic around-the-world flight within the next month, according to the project’s latest announcements.  When HB-SIB leaves Abu Dhabi, it will cross two oceans and four continents before returning to its departure point.  The trip will include landings in 12 locations and a total distance of 35,000 kilometers (21,700 miles) – all without using a drop of fuel. Its route and schedule will be affected by weather, and since the airplane will fly at only 27 miles per hour at night to conserve battery energy, by prevailing winds.  Normal flight speeds will range from 50 to 100 kilometers per hour (31 to 62 mph). The press release …

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 Impulse Wrapping Up Flight Tests before Heading to Abu Dhabi

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse 2, HB-SIB, flying now for several months, is being readied for a trip to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and host city for Solar Impulse’s around-the-world flight.  From there, early in 2015, it will embark on its around-the-world flight, alternately flown by Bertrand Piccard and Andre’ Borschberg. The program continues the drive and immense logistical planning evidenced by Solar Impulse 1’s across-America flight last year.  “What better way to demonstrate the importance of the pioneering, innovatory spirit than by achieving ‘impossible’ things with renewable energy and highlighting new solutions for environmental problems?” This attitude will be necessary to overcome the challenges of five-day, cross-ocean flights each pilot will face, and to meet the meteorological …

Solar Impulse 2 Makes Premier Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse HB-SIB, the second aircraft from the program headed by Andre’ Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, took to the skies early this morning piloted by Markus Scherdel.  Taking off from Payerne Airport at 3:38 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) Solar Impulse 2 climbed to a randomly orbiting path within a 20-mile compass of the airfield to the southwest, Lake Neuchatel to the north, and Belleville to the northeast. At about 4:01 GMT, and about 5,300 feet, Scherdel reported a slight vibration and briefly leveled off until determining that it was probably an aerodynamic vibration – not a motor issue, but possibly from a hatch door.  He continued climbing and performed a bank angle test of 5° at varying airspeeds and “a …

Solar Impulse on 60 Minutes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Alexandra Gindroz, Media Relations Manager for Solar Impulse, shared this late-breaking development today. “60 MINUTES recently visited Solar Impulse, the first manned solar airplane able to fly day and night without fuel. Learn about this groundbreaking project widely recognized as a 21st century adventure with a real utility in promoting technological innovation on CBS 60 MINUTES Sunday December 2nd at 7 P.M ET.”   Even more exciting to alternative energy aviation followers, Solar Impulse plans on flying its airplane across the United States early next year.  “In the summer of 2010, Solar Impulse successfully conducted the first ever historical 26-hour flight bringing the notion of perpetual flight closer to reality. This revolutionary airplane is much more; it is an adventure that shapes tomorrow through …

Solar Impulse HB-SIA Returns Home, HB-SIB Under Construction

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse crossed from Toulouse, France to Payerne, Switzerland on July 25, completing an epic intercontinental voyage for the giant solar-powered craft. Its itinerary consisted of a flight from the Solar Impulse home base in Payerne, Switzerland to Madrid, Spain, followed by a jump across the Strait of Gibraltar, for the first time linking Europe and Africa by solar flight. Because of its light wing loading, the airplane is subject to the vagaries of wind and turbulence as the ultralight aircraft it truly is, and was forced to turn back after battling the elements for half a day on its attempt to fly from Rabat, Morocco to Quarzazate, the site of the Moroccan solar agency’s huge desert solar generating site.  A …