2015 PADA Awards Dinner and Presentation

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The CAFE Foundation’s announcement should capture our attention.  “The 2015 Personal Aircraft Design Academy will feature two excellent presentations: Burt Rutan on the SkiGull and Nick Borer on the LEAPTECH project. This will be followed by the ceremony to award the esteemed PADA Trophy to a surprise recipient. A reservations-only $20 hors d’oeuvre pre-reception at 6:15 PM on July 24 in the EAA Museum’s Fergus Plaza will provide an excellent opportunity to meet with aviation’s top personal aircraft designers. “The Personal Aircraft Design Academy (PADA) gathering for 2015 will begin with a special indoor hors d’oeuvre reception for $20 per person that begins at 6:15 PM on Friday, July 24 in the Fergus Plaza lobby of the EAA Museum. This will be …

EAS IX: Low Aspect Ratio Airplanes – Against the Grain

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Barnaby Wainfan is a technical fellow with Northrop-Grumman, but possibly best known for the FMX-4, well known as the “Facetmobile.”   His talk on “Low Aspect Ratio Electric Airplanes gave attendees at the ninth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium a great deal of counter-intuitive insights into how a successful airplane can look and work. The FMX-4, he pointed out, is a low-aspect-ratio, light weight, single primary structure, low-parts-count airplane with benign flying qualities.  When, as he told his audience, he decided to stop talking and start testing, he began with X-Plane computer simulations to check out his theories and studied simple, fast-building structures that would get him into the air expeditiously. N117W was easier to build than curved sticks, and despite its …

EAS IX: Mike Ricci Explains PWB, Safety

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

Dreamliner battery nightmares have troubled the dreams of electric flight for the past two years.  Michael Ricci, Vice President of Engineering with LaunchPoint Technologies, gave attendees at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium a crash course (pun intended) in the many types of failure modes electric aircraft face.  Luckily, he also provided ways to mitigate and eliminate those failure modes. He introduced a concept called “Propulsion by Wire” (PBW), the main thrust for electric aircraft and roughly akin to the commonly discussed “Fly by Wire” concept.  Asking what product specifications for electric propulsion will look like, he answered his own rhetorical question with the technical requirements for reasonable interaction, a useful user interface, airworthiness, and safety. Starting with the last issue …

EAS VIII: Joby Motors – on Simple and Complex Airframes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, Joby Motors, and related enterprises, has thought long and hard about the financial costs and lost productivity brought about by the daily automotive commute, a 1.6 hour per day ordeal for many in our urban centers.  JoeBen and the Atlantic magazine agree that commuters squander 5.5 billion hours and 2.9 billion gallons of fuel annually, stuck in the fitful despair of slow or unmoving traffic, sharing only frustration and polluted air with their fellow motorists. JoeBen told attendees at the April Electric Aircraft Symposium that several years before, he had the seeming pipe dream of moving people by air in a single-seat, eight-motorm, vertical takeoff and landing, electric commuter aircraft that would …

EAS VIII: High Efficiency Forward Swept Propellers at Low Speed

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Working with Craig D. Paxton, Peter J. Gryn, Erisa K Hines, and  Ulises Perez, Dr. Ge-Cheng Zha of the University of Miami Department of Aeronautics and a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Fellow, has worked on a method to improve propeller efficiency and reduce blade  stall using a forward tangential swept configuration.  Dr. Zha wowed EAS VII attendees last year with his astonishing high-lift, high-speed wing design.  This year, he gave hope for advanced propeller design. The professor and his team are trying to increase general aviation fuel efficiency and reduce pollution.  Propellers, imparting the energy from the engine or motor to the air, are a good place to start. Most current propellers are axial and are straight bladed or …

Stemme Motorglider Makes Automated Landing

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Stemme AG, manufacturer of highly sophisticated motorgliders, has made their aerial platforms mounts for a huge array of surveillance and sensor systems.  Their latest announcement, though, shows the company is thinking next generation thoughts about flying in automated skies. According to the Technical University of Berlin, a co-partner with the University of Stuttgart on the project, “the STEMME s15 landed precisely and safely at 5: 44 P.m. local time.”   The flight took place March 22, 2012. Using a flight controller and laser altimeter, the system allows “optional piloting” in its operation.  It also provides a high degree of flexibility, letting the airplane land at any airport, even those without instrument landing systems. LAPAZ, their automated flight control system, uses electric …

The Sixth Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium

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

The CAFE Foundation will hold its sixth Electric Aircraft Symposium on April 27 and 28, 2012 at the Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa, California and at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, site of the Green Flight Challenge. Not only will there be a stellar lineup of speakers, but flying demonstrations of electric and hybrid aircraft, a first at any EAS. Jack Langelaan, team leader for the GFC-winning Electro Taurus G4 team, and Tine Tomazic from Pipistrel will share insights on the design and flight of the 403.5 epmpg aircraft.  David Calley, Chief Technical Officer for Motor Excellence, will describe ideal low-RPM motors for electric aircraft, and Mark Moore from NASA’s Langley Research Center will share breakthroughs in distributed …

NASA Adds Some Numbers to Green Flight Challenge

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

NASA’s Mark Moore sends this link to NASA’s press release on the recent NASA Centennial Challenge Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google.  The CAFE Foundation organized and managed the event. “Today we’ve shown that electric aircraft have moved beyond science fiction and are now in the realm of practice.” – Chief technologist at NASA Joe Parrish. The lead quote is informative, as are some figures from the release.  “The competition resulted in the world’s most efficient aircraft, beating the state of the art of approximately 100 pmpg (passenger miles per gallon) which is achieved by the newly released Boeing 787 airliner.  Essentially this contest showed the ability of small aircraft to achieve twice the efficiency of the most efficient production automobiles today, …

Drs. Seeley and Moore Hit One Out of the Airpark

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The January 2011 issue of Popular Mechanics resurrects the perennial hope for a flying automobile.  The cover taunts, “(Go Ahead, Laugh) But NASA, DARPA & the FAA Are Serious.”  Sharon Weinberger taunts some makers a bit in her article, “Driving on Air,” as she looks at a variety of Transformer-style vehicles that can travel by land or air with the fewest inconveniences.  She notes the differences between propelling cars and planes, and looks at extremely different modes of giving people personal aerial transport, including the Moeller Skycar (“Inventor Paul Moeller has been developing the concept for nearly 50 years.  To date, the M400X has only hovered on a tether.”), the Martin Jetpack, The Cartercopter, and the Terrafugia Transition that’s been …

CAFE News: NASA’s Colloquia Feature Dr. Seeley

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

col·lo·qui·um (n.) 1. An informal meeting for the exchange of views. 2. An academic seminar on a broad field of study, usually led by a different lecturer at each meeting. The Free Dictionary CAFE Foundation President Dr. Brien Seeley spoke by invitation at the Sigma Series Colloquium at NASA Langley in Hampton, Virginia on May 4th. His talk had an illustrious heritage as part of the longest-running science colloquia in America, beginning 50 years ago with a presentation by Werner von Braun, and since then including talks by Carl Sagan, Alex Haley, Neil Armstrong and other notables. Dr. Seeley was interviewed by NASA public relations TV and a local news station. Although not used to being treated like a celebrity, he found …