Belite – Going Electric?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Even to the casual observer, interest in electric flight is growing.  Major news outlets followed Solar Impulse, especially as it began its journey from Japan to Hawaii.  The fluster of cross-English-Channel attempts combined daring and rivalries – great for a public appetite voracious for sensation.  With big companies investing significant sums in the new technology, and with demonstrated efficiency of small craft that won 2011’s Green Flight Challenge, designers can’t help but respond to the ongoing challenge. James Wiebe, founder and owner of Belite Aircraft, has a response that will be welcomed by aviators who might not be able to fly because of their budget.  He’s introduced the SkyDock low-wing ultralight at Oshkosh’s AirVenture 2015 this week at an introductory …

PADA Lectures Highlight Innovation

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The 2014 Personal Aircraft Design Academy (PADA) dinner and awards ceremony, the latter held in the Vette Theater at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Museum, highlighted design innovation and the possible commercial exploitation of new technology.  Dr. Brien Seeley, Founder and President of the CAFE Foundation, hosted the evening and introduced your CAFE blog editor, who gave an overview of innovations in aircraft, avionics and powerplants he’d encountered on his daily hikes around Wittman Field. Dr. Seeley had the honor of presenting this year’s PADA trophy to John O’Leary, Vice President and General Manager of Airbus Americas Engineering (AAE), for the parent company’s development of the E-Fan, a twin-motored personal airplane that has been a highlight of the Paris and Farnborough …

Randall Fishman’s ElectraFlyer ULS – a Gateway Plane

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Appearing before attendees at the 2013 Electric Aircraft Symposium, Randall Fishman’s spoke of great accomplishments and grander visions.  “ElectraFlyer ULS & Electric Ultralight Airplanes, the path to approval for all electric aircraft?” showed ElectraFlyer’s history and the ambitions Randall would like to play out. A pioneer in ultralights, Randall has been flying hang gliders since 1972, produced the first continuously powered electric aircraft, flew the first electric airplane at Oshkosh’s AirVenture and claims a primary interest of bringing practical, user-friendly electric flight to as many people as possible. Between 2005 and 2007, he designed, built and test flew his first electrically-powered trike.  Making its first take-off on April 29, 2007, by May 2 it had made a one-hour flight.  Ever …

It’s Official, It’s a Volocopter Video

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Thomas Senkel of the German firm e-volo sends this video, the official promotional video for these multi-rotor vertical takeoff and landing aircraft at AirVenture 2012.  Better yet, the team will have at least their prototype machine on hand and many displays of future developments.  Note the modular structure of these vehicles at the end of the video. Innovation Hangar Alpha will house the VC2 Volocopter, successor to the VC1 and improved in many ways, including three pilates balls for bouncing your landing on.  The VC1 was the first “purely electrically powered, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft and flew last October.  At least the pilot is under the spinning rotors on this version. Seriously, the designs represent a clever and …

Electric Lazair Progress

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

During a visit to the International Vintage Sailplane Meet at Harris Hill, New York, your editor was fortunate to be a guest of Dale and Carmen Kramer, who graciously showed their home, once that of Glenn Curtis, “The Father of Naval Aviation.” Now the Hammondsport cottage (as in Glenn Hammond Curtis), which overlooks the lake where Curtis flew his early amphibians, is home to a high-tech cottage industry, with Dale creating battery monitoring systems, “brain boxes”, and other elements of his electrical power system for ultralight aircraft.  He designs the schematic and printed circuit boards for the system, sends them off to a PCB manufacturer and hand mounts very small components on the finished circuit boards, a process that would …

AVweb Readers Weigh In on Electric Aircraft, Green Flight Challenge

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Mary Grady of AVweb started an expanding dialogue with her recent opinion piece on NASA and the CAFE Foundation’s Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google.   The stimulating and varied points of view reflect what is probably floating around in the general public’s perception of “green aviation,” ranging from total ignorance of what has been done already, to confusion about what it all means, to well-honed, technically aware arguments on both sides of the issue. Her thought that electrification is, “the first step down a long and bumpy road that could take general aviation in new directions,” was reinforced with the following reflections that might be similar to those that readers of this blog often experience. “For people who fly for …

A Useful Spreadsheet and GFC Handicapping Tool

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

For analyzing the greatest economy from an aircraft’s design, Howard Handelman, a highly-engaged reader of this blog, provides a link to his web site, which includes a downloadable spreadsheet he has devised that will give the inquiring reader hours of enjoyment. Handelman, self-described as, “just a retired IT guy,” with “weak math skills,” but a “compulsively curious” nature, has devised a tool for analyzing any airplane’s performance based on a few known variables, and which he has applied to many of the Green Flight Challenge’s aircraft. The basis for his analyses is his “triangle tool,” a wedge that can be used to help design propellers, “test [the] truth” of claimed aircraft performance, and estimate brake horsepower in real life circumstances (at …