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 …

HOMER and PEACE Offer Quieter, Smoother Flight: Part One

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

A European-based consortium of academic and industrial groups take a very old idea, add a plasma system that seems to be nearly science fiction, whip them together and create quiet, efficient, vector-controlled flight.  That’s the promise, although it seems a bit much to take in all at once.  But the folks at the ACHEON (Aerial Coanda High Efficiency Orienting-jet Nozzle) project seem to think they have a potential winner here.  ACHEON represents two other acronyms, so let’s define those first. The original idea for the project was part of H. O. M. E. R., not of the Simpsons, or even of epic Greek poetry, but of the “High-speed Orienting Momentum with Enhanced Reversibility” variety.  Combine that with P. E. A. …

Combining the Best Features of Balsa Wood, Ceramics and NERF®

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

California Institute of Technology (CalTech) floats this imaginary trial balloon to elicit interest in a new material developed by materials scientist Julia Greer and her colleagues.  “Imagine a balloon that could float without using any lighter-than-air gas. Instead, it could simply have all of its air sucked out while maintaining its filled shape. Such a vacuum balloon, which could help ease the world’s current shortage of helium, can only be made if a new material existed that was strong enough to sustain the pressure generated by forcing out all that air while still being lightweight and flexible.” Not only are the scientists achieving the strong, lightweight part of the equation, they are “on the path” to making their new material …

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 …

Dr. Shin to Keynote Electric Aircraft Symposium

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Dr. Jaiwon Shin, NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics, will close the Friday, April 25 session of the eighth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium with his keynote address, “The NASA Aeronautics Vision and Strategy – How It Relates to Electric Aircraft.”  As Associate Administrator, Dr. Shin “manages the agency’s aeronautics research portfolio and guides its strategic direction,” according to his official NASA biography.  He co-chairs the National Science & Technology Council’s Aeronautics Science & Technology Subcommittee, a group of federal departments and agencies that fund aeronautics-related research. Its first presidential policy for aeronautics research and development (R&D) was ratified by Executive Order 13419 in December 2006, and now guides such research until 2020.  Dr. Shin oversees and sets policies for an array …

Ken Goodrich, Stacking the Flight Deck for Safety

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

As we head toward this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium, we look back again at last year’s outstanding array of speakers and presentations. Ken Goodrich, a senior research engineer for the Dynamic Systems and Controls Branch at NASA Langley Research Center, for the last several decades has been intent on creating improved human interfaces for airplane flight decks.  His presentation at EAS V last April was based on long-term research (and now available in the CAFE library) and took an approach that challenged the conventional notions of responsibility. What if we were to share responsibility for our safety and that of our passengers with the airplane?  What if we were to give over responsibility entirely to the craft itself?  How do we …

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 …

Dennis Bushnell: Envisioning a Plausible, Positive Future

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Consider that Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Benjamin Santer of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) kicked off the first day of the 2011 Electric Aircraft Symposium with a highly-detailed examination of the issues surrounding climate change.  That required an equally adept presenter to expound on possible solutions for worldwide problems, and EAS 5 delivered with Dennis Bushnell, NASA’s Chief Scientist at Langley Research Center. According to one biography, he is “responsible for Technical Oversight and Advanced Program formulation for a major NASA Research Center with technical emphasis in the areas of Atmospheric Sciences and Structures, Computational Sciences and Systems Optimization for Aeronautics, Spacecraft, Exploration and Space Access. He has 43 years’ experience working in the leading edge of …