Smartflyer Moves, Along with Former Namesake Fly-in

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, hydrogen, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Smartflyer is a four-passenger, proof-of-concept light aircraft that can fly on pure electric power, as a hybrid with an av-gas powered generator, or as a hydrogen-fuel-cell-driven airplane.  It’s been under development for several years, but is moving production to Stelzach – just nearby.  Likewise, the Smartflyer Challenge, an electric aircraft fly-in, is moving from Smartflyer’s Grenchen, Switzerland home to Bern, a much larger field about 20 miles south. The Smartflyer SFX1 Electric-Flight.eu reports, “The fuselage of the Smartflyer SFX1 is slowly taking shape.”  Company founder Rolf Stuber OK’d production of the first carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) fuselage at Aerolite near Lucerne.  In a rented hall of 500 square meters (5,382 square feet), the “ready-to-install” drivetrain, consisting of a well-tested …

Sonex and Gabriel DeVault Partner on Electric Kitplane

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Sonex and Gabriel DeVault have partnered to create an electric kitplane, marketing components for a different type of powerplant.  Sonex has been in the kitplane business since 1998 (having built from a decade’s-old earlier company) and Gabriel DeVault has been working with the electrification of aircraft for a decade.  Combining their expertise, we have a kit built path toward an inexpensive electric kitplane. Gabriel commutes a lot by air, traversing the globe between his home in Watsonville, California and Cranfield, England for work on Zero Avia’s electrification of Dornier 228s – one in each country.  He flies between Watsonville and Hollister, California in his Zero Motorcycle powered eXenos, a kit built product from Sonex Aircraft in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Before that, …

Elektra Solar Trainer Unveiled 

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Elektra Solar introduced its Trainer, a new two-seat craft, at this year’s Aero Expo.  As reported here last year, the airplane features side-by-side seating to facilitate training, doubtless enhanced by the low noise level – 50 dB, according to the company.  Based on German ultralight standard LTF-UL 2020.  Compared to a “moderate rainfall noise,” the low sound level allows operation in noise protected areas and should enable easy communication between student and instructor. Safety and Performance With safety in mind, Calin Gologan, the plane’s designer, chose Geiger Engineering’s HPD50D dual motor.  Putting out 50 kilowatts continuously or 70 kW peak power, the 16 kilogram (37.3 pound) unit can run on either or both rotors.  Both independently controlled motors drive a …

Group 14 Gets a Push from Porsche

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We covered Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s visit to the Group 14 Technologies battery plant in Woodinville last year.  Now the Group is getting attention from Porsche, among other funders.  The startup company announced raising $400 million from investors including the Teutonic automaker. According to Reuters, part of those funds will be used to build a second battery materials plant in eastern Washington State.  The company is now valued at over $1 billion, money which will help expand battery materials production for the silicon-lithium cell market. Silicon is a desirable material in batteries, capable of storing more energy than lithium or other metals.  It has a major drawback, though.  In expanding and contracting during charge-discharge cycles, it eventually deteriorates, crumbles, and …

ZeroAvia, Mitsubishi, and Alaska Airlines Power Up

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A Different Type of Kitplane Green Aeronautics are moving beyond small beginnings into grander realms through ZeroAvia, Mitsubishi, and Alaska Airlines. Gabriel DeVault has flown two different electric airplanes of his own, a converted EarthStar Thundergull and a Sonex eXenos (which seems to be his daily commuter between Hollister, California and his home in Watsonville).  Both have been featured prominently in his YouTube channel and your editor has written about them for Kitplanes magazine.  Now, Gabriel is working on a different type of Kitplane at a much large scale. Gabriel managed research and design for the motor and related systems on the Zero electric motorcycle.  The original unit has gone through several upgrades, and is now seen in variants from …

EmbraerX and Pyka Team Up

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Accelerating Innovation Embraer, a major Brazilian airframe developer, and Pyka, an Oakland, California-based autonomous agricultural aircraft builder, are teaming up.  They hope, “To accelerate the future of autonomous aerial agriculture operations.”  Beyond that, Pyka is expanding into regional air transport which could open 5,000 U. S. airports to usually unserved areas. Pyka has flown autonomous agricultural aircraft in New Zealand for over two years, demonstrating high efficiency and economy in aerial application, or crop dusting (or spraying) as it’s historically called.  Apparently, the island nation’s Part 101 and 102 civil aviation licensing requirements are receptive to such flight.  According to Dan Grossman, Pyka’s new President (and formerly of Zipcar, Ford and Maven), Pelican made more than 3,000 flights. Airframer.com reports, …

Graphene  Sodium-Ion Batteries with 10X Energy

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Graphene, applied in a sodium-ion battery may herald inexpensive alternatives to lithium-ion cells.  Scientists are exploring ways of making batteries not only more energy-dense, but also less costly.  Sodium, a primary ingredient in table salt, is one possibility.  It’s also abundant without too much effort required to find it. On the other hand, easily-obtainable lithium may become in short supply at a time when the world is clawing its way into the earth searching for more. Sodium is the sixth most abundant element on earth, making up about 2.6 percent of the planet.   It’s never found free in nature, but always as part of something like the salt (NaCl) one can see it crusting over from evaporating bay water near …

Antares Upgrades to RED.3 Batteries

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An airplane that’s a seasoned veteran gets even better with the new SAFT RED.3 batteries.   At the Grenchen, Switzerland Electrifly-in Lange Antares spread their wings over 21 meters of display space each.  Klaus Ohlmann flew the latest E model from the manufacturer and a hybrid e-Rop from AdvanTec GmbH was on static display.  These airplanes are evolutions of the original design, which goes back to 2003.  SAFT’s new batteries will make the plane even better. Richard Van Grunsven, founder of Van’s Aircraft, granted your editor an interview in 2010 and demonstrated the motor’s operation on his Antares.  The same 42 kilowatt (56.3 horsepower) motor is retained in the current version, but batteries have become better in the last 11 years. …

Eviation’s Alice Meets a Governor and a Mayor

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Eviation’s Alice and MagniX’s motors got a visit from the Governor of Washington State and the Mayor of Arlington where the nine-seat airliner is being prepared for its first flight.  Electric aircraft, so far, don’t command that big a portion of the daily press, so it’s heartening to see TV cameras and news reporters turn out. Eviation shared its take on Facebook.  “We enjoyed hosting @GovInslee and @barbtolbert today for an intimate look as Alice prepares for first flight later this year. They saw first-hand how our growing teams are working to make #electricaviation a reality.” Governor Jay Inslee was already aware of the work motor company MagniX was doing when he acknowledged the May 28, 2020 flight of a …

Would an Electric LSA Kit Appeal to You?

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Is there a need and desire for an electric light sport aircraft (LSA) kit that is inexpensive to own, operate, and maintain?  Electric flight already offers that possibility, and if kits were available to further lower costs, we could see a new way to achieve low-cost flight.  The LSA designation qualifies a builder to take advantage of LSA’s lighter constraints. A good friend who happens to have designed an electric Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) a few years ago let the project lapse because of the need to tend to other business interests.  He wants to know if there’s a market for a new, improved version of his original concept – an electric LSA that would fly for considerably less in …