ZeroAvia Counts on Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Tucked away in the quiet little airport at Hollister, California, ZeroAvia has stealthily been developing a hydrogen-powered Piper Malibu, and flying it for the last six months.  It sounds like a regular aircraft taking off and passing overhead, even with its two 130 kilowatt (174.26 horsepower) electric motors. ZeroAvia claims 275 kW (369 hp) for the pair.  From the videos, propeller noise seems to be much the same as a conventional, internal-combustion powered Malibu, but lacks the added noise of the engine.  Piper M-series aircraft are normally powered by a Teledyne Continental Motors TSIO-520BE engine rated at 310 hp (230 kW). Valery Miftakhov, ZeroAvia’s founder and CEO announced, “Right now we have an aircraft that’s six seats and 2 tons …

Phantom Eye Flies, Breaks a Leg

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Boeing’s Phantom Eye, hydrogen-powered HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) surveillance aircraft rose from its launch cart at 6:22 a.m. Pacific time on June 1, then climbed to an altitude of 4,080 feet on its 28 minute maiden flight. Phantom Eye is meant to be an autonomous craft with four-day mission capabilities.  The bulbous front fuselage houses two spherical hydrogen tanks that feed the Ford 2.3 liter engines on the 150-foot, high-aspect ratio wings.  The engines, triple turbocharged at altitude, emit only water vapor, making spying a little cleaner. Note the web-like spinning of carbon fiber strands making up the fuselage.  This highly-automated manufacturing process probably emulates that used on the company’s 787 Dreamliner and reflects the high-technology methods we can …

Boeing’s PhantomEye Powers Up

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

While AeroVironment’s Global Observer High Altitude Long Endurance aircraft has flown at the NASA Dryden Flight Test Center, Boeing’s PhantomEye HALE is in pieces but undergoing testing prior to being shipped to Dryden.  PhantomEye’s hydrogen-fueled engines are being tested at Santa Clarita, California and airframe parts are being prepared for flight at Boeing’s St. Louis, Missouri plant.   AeroVironment’s craft has now flown with fuel cells providing electricity to run the four wing-mounted motors.  PhantomEye uses hydrogen stored in eight-foot diameter tanks in its fuselage to directly fuel the twin Ford 2.3-liter modified engines.  At altitude, a three-stage turbocharger will be required to provide air for an efficient fuel burn. Both unmanned aerial vehicles have similar missions, to fly at 65,000 …

Flying High on Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

AeroVironment announced that their Global Observer™ reached an altitude of 5,000 feet (mean sea level) over Edwards Air Force Base and stayed up for four hours – all on its hydrogen-powered electric motors.  Having made its first flights last August and September on battery power, the Global Observer on January 11, 2011 successfully demonstrated the system that will allow it to stay airborne for up to a week at a time, staying on station at 65,000 feet. This ability to maintain “persistent” communications and surveillance enables to the Global Observer to be flown in from areas remote from a combat theater or natural disaster location, and to uninterrupted observation of the situation.  AeroVironment claims that, “Two Global Observer aircraft, each …

It Only Looks Fat

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Aviation Week reports on the inner workings of Boeing’s Phantom Eye HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) unmanned aerial vehicle.  The craft, now being tested at NASA Dryden Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, has a rotund character that shows form does follow function. Wrapping two eight-foot diameter hydrogen tanks in a low-drag pod and boom style fuselage, the “bulbous” but aerodynamic shape seems at variance with its sailplane-like 150-foot wings.  Overall, the design’s unlikely look conceals its purpose as well as its enormous fuel tanks. According to Aviation Week, “Boeing’s objective is a production HALE UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] with an endurance of 10 days, which would enable it to remain on station for four days at 10,000nm [nautical miles] …