Where Are They Now? The Electric Phoenix

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

MGM COMPRO, a Czechoslovakian motor and electronics supplier, announced that they had participated in finally making the Phoenix motorglider an electric machine.  Jim Lee and co-pilot Jeff Shingleton had originally intended to fly the airplane at the Green Flight Challenge three years ago, but contented themselves with competing in the Rotax-powered machine and “only” winning third place in the event.  Their competing did elicit a great deal of interest in the machine, though. MGM says, “We are very glad that we can present you a very successful project, [the] U-15 Phoenix of the Czech entrepreneur Martin Stepanek.  MGM COMPRO plays a decisive role in a development of industrial controllers for this fully electric aircraft. As described in the blog three …

Green Flight Challenge Final Results

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 15 Comments

Steve Williams, CAFE Foundation board member and e-totalizer guru, released the final results for the NASA Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google, held at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport from September 25 through October 1, 2011.  Figures show a profound difference between the two electric winners and the two gas-powered and hybrid runners-up. All competitors flew extremely clean motorgliders with demonstrated lift-to-drag ratios between 25:1 and 35:1.  Possible explanations for the large differences in energy use include low cooling drag for electric aircraft and the efficiency of electric motors – but the differences are still surprising. Note that a little over 11 US gallons of gasoline (energy equivalent) were used to fly seven people (Embry Riddle’s Eco-Eagle flew with only one pilot) over …

Green Flight Challenge – Day Two

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Monday morning, September 26, many of us had our first view of an electric airplane in flight. After the weighing team rolled Jim Lee and Jeff Shingleton’s Phoenix motorglider from the hangar onto its impound location and completed initial weigh-ins for the remaining three aircraft, the airplanes were staged for the first flying event of the Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google. With technical inspections and weighing completed, the four airplanes lined up to check their noise levels and their ability to clear an imaginary 50-foot barrier atop a cherry picker  2,000 feet from the top of the number “9” on runway 19 at Santa Rosa, California’s Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.  As each aircraft rolled out to their …

Green Flight Challenge – Day One

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation

  Sunday, September 25 marked the kickoff of the Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google, a NASA Centennial Challenge managed by the CAFE Foundation, with a thorough technical inspection for each entrant, followed by a weigh-in.  Held at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, the event is an event of international importance, despite the small turnout. With only four entrants making an appearance out of the original 13 that had announced and made it through the rigorous design review, there might be cause for disappointment. Consider, though, the Berblinger competition held in April at the Aero Expo in Friedrichshafen, Germany. 36 teams signed up, 24 made it to the Expo, 13 started the course and eight finished. The GFC has a comparable start-finish …

Phoenix or PhoEnix – a Nice Airplane

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

While at Sun n’ Fun in Lakeland, Florida, we couldn’t help but notice Jim Lee’s Phoenix Air Phoenix, an S-LSA (Special Light Sport Aircraft) motorglider from the Czech Republic, posed as it was on the line of march into the air show area proper. Your editor was interested in the PhoEnix, the electric version of the proper looking and highly attractive Rotax-powered version in the Light Sport Aircraft display display, next to its Pipistrel neighbors.  There were a great many middle European LSAs being shown, but the Phoenix had ended up on the Airshow’s promotional poster, neatly avoiding the FA-18s of the Blue Angels. The electric version will be competing in the Green Flight Challenge, so revelations from Jim Lee, …