Controversial at CES 2016

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Making a lot of column inches of traditional newsprint and reigning as clickbait on the Internet, the Ehang 184 is an eye-catching Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) causing a bit of controversy in the media.  Unveiled at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2016), it drew concentric circles of photographers who normally save their enthusiasm for the lovely models showing off the newest iPhone or PlayStation. Coming from a firm that already makes hobby drones, the 184 (one passenger, eight motors, four arms) can carry its trusting passenger up to 20 miles, depending on who’s reporting.  Its 14.4 kilowatt-hour battery pack allows a maximum of 23 minutes of flight, and at 60 mph, a quick hop to a nearby destination, which …

An Electric Altitude Record in Short Sleeves

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Gary Davis of Greenville, South Carolina set a world altitude record for electric trikes, about the simplest of powered flying machines.  His flight to 4,790 feet above mean sea level (under 4,000 feet above ground level) exceeded his hope to reach at least 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) and puts him and power system provider Randall Fishman in the record books, at least when the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) ratifies the numbers. Davis, a managing director in Nachman Norwood & Parrot Wealth Management Consultancy in Greenville, has that affiliation discreetly emblazoned on his North Wing Stratus wing.  The company, possibly because of Davis’s interest, has 25 kilowatts of solar panels helping power its offices, and Davis and wife Deborah Meadows both …

UPS Tests Lithium Battery Cargo Safety Aids

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Aviation Week reports that United Parcel Service (UPS) “is ready to start FAA certification testing of an active fire-suppression system fitted to the cargo carrier’s new fire-resistant containers, preventive measures aimed in large part at protecting crews from lithium-type battery fires.”   The fire-resistant containers are the center of attention right now, though. After the fatal crash of a UPS Boeing 747-400F in Dubai in September 2010, United Arab Emirates investigators “determined that a large fire developed in the palletized cargo on the ‘Class E’ main deck in an area that included ‘a significant number of lithium-based batteries and other combustible materials,’” according to the Aviation Week report.  That fire had filled the flight deck with smoke within three minutes of its …

Less Expensive Batteries May Lead to More Homebuilt Electric Airplanes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

It came as somewhat of a shock that high-quality lithium battery prices could drop low enough to encourage electric aircraft developers an opportunity to “scrounge” in the style of the original home-built airplane builders.  Early aircraft “home-builders” often cannibalized war-surplus aircraft or wrecks of private planes for parts and materials that could be adapted into their own designs.  Ground power units (GPUs), for instance, became an early supply point for engine cores that could be converted to aircraft use – possible on “Experimental” homebuilts, although frowned upon by the FAA for factory-builts. Your editor thought at one point that auto wrecking yards might provide a source of used batteries for experimental electric airplanes, but the thought of all the internal …

Three Electric Airplanes Fly at AirVenture 2013

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Electric aircraft have flown for the last six years at the big Oshkosh AirVenture airshow.  Randall Fishman started the movement in 2007 showing his ElectraFlyer trike, and then flew his ElectraFlyer C, a single-seater derived from the Moni motorglider the following year.  He won the 2008 Stan Dzik Memorial Award For Design Contribution “for the installation of the Electric-Motor power train” and the Dr. August Raspet Award.   Last year he displayed his ElectricFlyer ULS, a twin-boom pusher with soaring capabilities. Others have followed, with Yuneec cruising overhead in 2010, winning the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP) prize for the craft’s “significant commercial potential” and “compelling design.” Dale Kramer, flying his twin-Joby-motored eLazair around the ultralight circuit in 2011, showed the …

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 …

A Fix for Dreamliner Battery Woes?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

With Boeing facing financial doldrums because of its ongoing grounding and resulting slump in sales of the 787 Dreamliner, the stakes are high for the company.  That makes today’s Reuters’ report that the manufacturing giant may have found a “way to fix battery problems on its grounded 787 Dreamliner jets” good news for not only Boeing, but for electric aircraft in general.  Readers should read these findings with some caution, though, since another report from Japan gives a different possible cause for the problems.  That said, the two reports might not be mutually exclusive. Many electric light aircraft developers use spacing between cells and some method to circulate cooling air over them.  In Boeing’s two 787 lithium battery packs, eight …

ElectraFlyer’s New ULS – A Different Kind of Boomer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Randall Fishman must have a wall of medals, trophies, and award plaques for his many breakthroughs in electric flying.  He was the first to astound Oshkosh attendees with the flight of an electric airplane, his ElectraFlyer C with a brushed motor and controller configured by Fishman.  He picked up not only prizes, but magazine and newspaper column inches and Internet hits.  His developments since then have diverged onto two paths, a two-seater and a pair of ultralight motorgliders. Randall sold a kit last year for his ElectraFlyer X to Richard Steeves, a physician from Madison, Wisconsin (look for an upcoming entry). and has been providing technical and material support. The X  should take to the skies soon. ElectraFlyer’s Ultralight development took …

ElectraFlyer’s Near Future Plans

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 3 Comments

ElectraFlyer’s Randall Fishman and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University were the lone inhabitants with aircraft on hand at the “green aviation” display at Sun n’ Fun, exhibiting the modified Stemme and the ElectraFlyer “C” respectively.  Having been within a few displays’ distance from the Thursday tornado that destroyed 69 aircraft, damaged many others, and dismantled marquees all around, they were probably fortunate to be there at all. Having decided to leave his two-seat ElectaFlyer X back at the shop, Randall had his four-year-old ElectraFlyer on hand, an airplane which hides what he describes as the only currently available electric motor, controller, instrumentation, custom propeller hub, and battery package in its neatly cowled nose, and which has been available for years before …

Ultralight and Electric – The Red Tail Hawk

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Many of us dream of retiring and pursuing the dreams that sustained us during our careers.  One man has done that with the kind of work ethic that makes retirement highly productive.  He maintains two web sites; a Yahoo group dedicated to his latest homebuilt electric sailplane, and a more inclusive overview of his many aeronautical projects. Jerry Booker took early retirement from the architectural technology profession, and having grown up on a farm, “enjoyed ‘green’ living, with a lot of physical activity, and now [lives] in the farm country in central Illinois.” Designing and building even a simple airplane is a task that requires the willingness to learn and explore new ideas, and if that craft includes an electric powerplant, a …