163 Horsepower from 25 Pounds

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

ThinGap, LLC is well known for small motors with excellent performance characteristics, eliminating the use of iron and its resultant “lossiness” and depending instead on copper foil, rather than wire windings for its internally clean structure. The design leads to a lack of “cogging,” that notched feeling found when turning over some motors by hand.  Each individual magnet causes the rotor to stop, or “cog,” sometimes making low-speed operation a bit hesitant and smooth transitions difficult.  That, the unique ring design and an aluminum housing help carry heat away and allow for an internal controller. ThinGap have focused on smaller unmanned aerial vehicle applications for many years, but have moved into larger automotive and aircraft products, with one model in particular capturing our attention.  The non-production 14090 ring motor is 14 inches in diameter, weighs 25.6 pounds and can deliver 122 kilowatts (163 horsepower) – about 6.4 horsepower per pound and close to the Halbach array motors of Geoff Long …

The Verticopter® , an Adaptable and Expandable Convertiplane

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

Oliver Garrow, founder, designer, and President of Garrow Aircraft LLC, says it right up front, “My design is completely counterintuitive.”  Pilots are used to counterintuitive thinking.  Push the nose down and add power when you’ve stalled and are heading groundward anyway, for instance.  But the logic of what Garrow is doing becomes apparent only when you see the Verticopter® flying.  Adaptable for varying flight characteristics, the Verticopter can be powered by one or more motors.  A single motor, for instance, would provide a simple solution for a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft.  A short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) airplane might use two or more motors.  Full vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) would require four to six motors.  Motors can be pivoted on all models, providing vectored thrust that makes the most of the airplane’s unique configuration.  Garrow sees electric power as ideal for this application, and the use of one or multiple motors simplifies the problem of vectoring the …

Getting Wired on the e-Spyder

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Stephan Boutenko of Alternair passed this along, and it is worth a read.  Jason Paur of Wired Magazine’s Autopia web site reports on flying Tom Peghiny’s e-Spyder, a combination of Tom’s Flightstar ultralight with a Yuneec motor, controller and battery. Paur’s impressions are highly positive, with the desire to continue the experience.  He notes, “Flying on battery power is about the unique experience of flying without the noise, vibration and smells of a traditional engine pulling you along. It’s an entirely different sensation. And like gliding, it is about the challenge of flying within the limitations of the aircraft and maximizing your time aloft. “’It’s like hypermiling a flight,’ Peghiny says.”  Hypermiling in automobiles is the act of conserving fuel by tactics such as accelerating gently to a speed somewhat above the average desired, then coasting to a point below that average and accelerating again.  Electric aircraft may require such tactics for at least the immediate future until battery technology …

Jerry Booker – A One Man CAFE Foundation

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

An engineer retired to southern Illinois farm country, Jerry Booker has designed and built several airplanes, his latest being the Red Tail Hawk, a Part 103-compliant self-launching ultralight sailplane.  He has flown 15 times in his new creation, maintaining meticulous notes and downloading data for review by others.  His empirical approach to testing the limits of his electric powerplant (a Randall Fisher 18 horsepower brushed motor/controller combination) and airframe represent a thorough and careful examination of a type of airplane that other homebuilders might be able to make with currently available systems. Jerry’s flight reports are dispassionate and carefully logged, following much of the approach and including many of the criteria developed over the years by the CAFE Foundation.  He uses an EagleTree flight data recorder that was developed for model aircraft to track the ups, downs and other parameters of his flights.  He checks his airspeed against an Etrex GPS.  Jerry posts the results of each flight in the …

ENFICA-FC – A Speed Record for Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Professor Guilio Romeo of the Politecnico de Torino, Italy is a man of many firsts.  Last year, his team fielded Skyspark, a Pioneer 300 powered with an electric motor fed by batteries.  This year, in a totally new development, Professor Romeo coordinated the activities leading to a successful hydrogen-powered electric aircraft, and set a world speed record to top off that accomplishment. The Skyleader 150 Zero CO2 light sport aircraft, built by JIHLAVAN airplanes, Ltd. in the Czech Republic, was fitted with Intelligent Energy proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells from the United Kingdom, an inverter and power management system by Italy’s Mavel Elletronica, and a motor at least partially designed by the University of Pisa, Italy.  Tanks and a high-pressure fuel delivery system were created by the UK’s Air Products Limited.  Labeled ENFICA-FC (Environmentally Friendly Inter City Aircraft Powered by Fuel Cells) the airplane was actually the fourth machine to fly on hydrogen power, the first being a Boeing conversion of a …

Green Flight Challenge: It Might Look Like a Quickie…

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 11 Comments

But it will be the Feuling Green Flight Challenger, an entirely new iteration of the Quickie “formula” if Gene Sheehan, Vic Turner, Luke Leatherman and Allon McBee have their way.  Created in the wake of the Vari-Eze’s and Long-Eze’s of the early 1970’s, the original Quickie was an 18-horsepower Onan industrial engine-powered irreducible flying machine with great speed for its low power and unbelievable fuel economy.  The team’s GFC Challenger is electric, and a far cry from its cast iron past – or the iron-horse Harley-Davidson motorcycles that are part of its surroundings. “Feuling” comes from the high-performance motorcycle and automobile developer who started the company bearing his name.  Jim Feuling had over 100 patents to his name, worked with the big names in the racing world, and created a 500 mile-per-gallon engine (at 55 miles per hour) for Honda’s streamliner and fielded a record-breaking motorcycle streamliner that clocked 333.847 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats on October 20th, 1999. …

Go Skynch Yourself – And Smile About It

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Jack Lambie, an early hang-glider pilot, wrote in a mid-seventies’ Soaring Magazine of a dream cross-country using ultralight sailplanes with self-launching devices that allowed high launches from flat ground when foot launching was not practical.  Lambie would be proud of recent developments in Denmark. Three years ago, we first noted the Skynch, a paraglider (potentially hang glider) self-launching device under development.  Then it seemed to disappear from view, only to re-emerge as a fully-developed electric winch with a remote for the pilot.  The self-controlled nature of the setup allows a pilot to literally pull him or herself into the blue. The video, which the Skynch people do not allow to be embedded here, gives a convincing demonstration of the system’s ease of use and functionality. Admittedly a bit pricey, the basic winch costs 6,700 Euros (about $9,300), and allows tows for 85 kilogram (187 pound) pilots on 1,000 meters (about 3,200 feet) of line.  Interestingly, a 100 kg (220 pound) pilot could be launched …

Solar Impulse – Swiss Pride

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Andre’ Borschberg, CEO of the Solar Impulse project, has been flying the giant airplane over many scenic and civic sites in Switzerland, crossing from its home field at Payerne to Geneva International Airport on September 21, and then returning the same day to Payerne.  The next day, Borschberg cruised to Zurich International Airport and returned to the plane’s home base.  As quoted in the project’s press release, Borschberg was happy about the chance to view Switzerland from his rare and lofty perch.  “’These flights are just amazing! Thanks to the plane’s low speed, I was able to discover Switzerland from a completely new angle, fully taking in the beauty of our country!’ said André Borschberg, CEO and Co-founder of Solar Impulse, from the cockpit of HB SIA in Zurich. ‘The Swiss solar flights represent a major step forward for our team, taking us away from our customary airspace. We have learned to work together with international airports, merging in with …

Launching on a Leaf Blower and a Hacker

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

Paul Dewhurst and Dr. Paul Robertson, chronicled in an earlier entry about their simultaneous electric ultralight flights last year, have created another first, a parallel hybrid motorglider launch. The truncated flight of their Alatus took place on September 9, 2010 at Sywell Aerodrome, between Coventry and Cambridge north of London. Dewhurst notes, “Flight was quite short though (around 1.5 minutes) after the controller suffered a bit of tantrum complete with sparks! Rework [is] in process and we hope to have a rather longer flight soon.” Replacing the Lynch unit normally used in the Alatus’s motorized version with an unspecified 76cc, 2.8 kilowatt (3.75 horsepower) internal combustion four-stroke leaf blower unit paralleled with a Hacker A200 12 kilowatt (16 horsepower) large model airplane motor approximates the Lynch motor’s output.  Despite that, the airplane seems reluctant to leave the ground in the video. Dewhurst explains, “Ground roll is quite long on the film, not entirely due to low thrust – it was uphill slightly …

Boeing SolarEagle – The Five-Year Flyer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Whether ferreting out insurgents in Afghanistan or monitoring agricultural trends in America, the ability to stay overhead and continue in a mission is of great importance for an aircraft providing aerial intelligence. Our recent stories about 200-foot span, hybrid electric HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) aircraft being tested at NASA Dryden Test Flight Center at Edwards Air Force Base showed a pair of large aircraft with the ability to stay up for a week, a persistence of overhead vision that is astonishing.  Now Boeing has announced a bigger, wildly more persistent vehicle, the SolarEagle, 435 feet in span, capable of floating around at 60,000 feet on solar/electric power for five years.  The 6,000 pound airframe can carry a payload of 1,000 pounds, two-and-a-half times that of the Boeing PhantomEye or Aerovironment Global Observer currently being tested.  With increasing miniaturization of electronics, such a craft could carry out multiple military and/or civilian missions simultaneously. According to Defense Update, an online resource, …