DLR’s Novel Configurations

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) conducting research into the potential of new types of design have crafted novel configurations for future flight.  The DRL and BDLI (German Aerospace Industries Association or Bundesverband der Deutschen Luft- und Raumfahrtindustrie)  have published a white paper: “Zero Emission Aviation – Emissionsfreies Fliegen” explicating these configurations. Surprisingly, one of their major findings is that “Electric flight enables lighter aircraft with smaller wings and distributed propulsion systems.”  Battery weight has caused MagniX and Ampaire to reduce the number of passengers or the cargo loads on conversions of existing airframes.  To counter those issues, “An EU research project is investigating the potential for new propulsion systems and aircraft concepts.”  …

A Short Break for the Blog

Dean Sigler Uncategorized Leave a Comment

This is physically painful to write, but explains a need to reduce output for a few days or weeks.  A blood flow problem in my left hand keeps me awake at night and interferes with concentration during waking hours.  I need to slow down on blog output until a course of action can alleviate the pain. There are several items in queue and they will be released in due order.  Please be patient while I am being a patient and we’ll get the blog rolling again soon. This is a concern to me since I’ve been writing and editing the blog on a volunteer basis for the last 10-and-a-half years, with well over 1,300 entries.  We need to keep this …

A Huge Battery with an Airplane Painted On It

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Eviation, an Israeli company developing Alice, a high-speed, intermediate-distance commuter airplane, brought its prototype to the Paris Air Show this week.  Eviation co-founder and CEO Omer Bar-Yohay gave journalists a 27-minute overview of the aircraft, the philosophy behind it, and projections on its immediate future. “It’s basically a huge battery with some plane painted on it,” he told reporters. The 6,350 kilogram (13,970 pound) airplane carries 900 kilowatt-hours of batteries, equivalent to the cells in nine Tesla S P100D automobiles or one Tesla semi-truck.  Even that, according to rough figuring by yours truly and polished calculations by a smarter reader, seems to provide for only half the necessary energy to provide the range Eviation claims.  Will flight tests prove us …

Ampaire Flies Hybrid Test Bed

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Ampaire, a tech startup based in California, announces, “Our mission is to be the world’s most trusted developer of practical, compelling electric aircraft from short-haul cargo to supersonic passenger transport.”  They also claim to have demonstrated the “highest-capacity electric aircraft ever flown” last Thursday, June 5th at Camarillo, California.  The company hopes to “have regular commercial service for passengers and cargo as soon as 2021.” Using a Cessna 337 Skymaster was a canny move for the young firm, giving them ample weight-carrying ability to have a petrol engine in the nose and a dual-Emrax motor system behind the cabin and between the twin tail booms. The push-pull arrangement adds to engine-out safety with no assymetrical thrust as on a conventional …

A Swan among the Ultralights

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized 1 Comment

At this year’s Aero Friedrichshafen, Modern Wings showed off their Swan Ultralight, a nicely packaged machine that can fly on either fossil fuels or electricity.  Of course, we’ll feature the electric version here. The Swan E115-22 is an electrically-powered airplane of 115 kilograms (253 pounds) empty weight powered by a 22-horsepower motor.  That empty weight puts it solidly into U. S. FAR Part 103 territory and SSDR (single-seat deregulated) requirements in Great Britain, and a 120 kilogram (264 pound) version complies with Regulation 120 in Germany.  Maximum takeoff weight is 300 kilograms (660 pounds), heavier than the 524 pounds Part 103 allows, and possible legal depending on how local FAA inspectors view batteries as part of empty or total weight. …

EnergyOr Ups the Ante for Endurance

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Staying airborne for more than an hour or two might seem like a huge leap for battery-powered electric aircraft.  Inspired designers like Eric Raymond have been able to use solar cells to extend their flights to near-perpetual states.  A large craft like Solar Impulse 2 remains in flight for up to five successive days and nights only through careful energy management and flight planning.  Researchers are looking at hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative to batteries, with the hopes of achieving greater endurance. One company, EnergyOr, has developed two still small fuel cells to power their rotary- and fixed-wing drones, setting several records in the process.  With payloads and maximum takeoff weights that enable carrying a 4K camera or large …

Solar Sails for Ultralights?

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized 1 Comment

Ultralights have done many spectacular things, including topping Mt. Everest and crossing the English Channel.  Gerard Thevenot flew the Channel under a La Mouette wing powered by an Eck/Geiger motor driven by three fuel cells in 2009 – six years before the recent flights with faster electric craft.  For that matter, Paul MacCready and his team flew a solar-powered aircraft from near Paris to an RAF runway on the eastern English coast in 1981. Hang gliders, paramotors, and other rigid and non-rigid-wing craft might benefit from new sailcloth that incorporates flexible solar cells into its makeup.  Used on sailboats, the solar fabric helps run auxiliary motors and can help extend the cruising range of a boat when the sails are …

A Second Night on Solar Impulse

Dean Sigler Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Pixar’s current film, Inside Out, depicts the emotions of an 11-year-old girl having her life disrupted by family circumstances.  Different voice actors depict Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness, emotions struggling for control within Headquarters (get it?).  Imagine your editor’s surprise to find that Solar Impulse’s Headquarters reports on its audience’s emotional state as part of the graphics which inform us about the flight’s progress – now in its second night over the North Pacific. Luckily, Andre’ Borschberg is a man of a well-disciplined character, with training in Yoga and self-hypnosis to help him benefit from the 20-minute rest periods that take the place of a normal night’s sleep.  But depending on events in the flight, those of us checking …

Lighter, More Powerful, Cheaper. Can J-CESR Bring Us Better Batteries?

Dean Sigler Uncategorized Leave a Comment

$70,000 is a sizable base price for a car.   That sum for the simplest of Tesla S sedans makes a bigger than average debt load for most of us, probably more than most can responsibly assume.   Even the much anticipated model “E” at half that price is more stunning than the average sticker shock these days.  What if, by some act of art or science, that $70,000 could be slashed to $14,000 for an electric vehicle that could travel 265 miles on a charge?  That tall order is the order of the day for the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, started two years ago under Dr. Steven Chu, who was then U. S. Secretary of Energy.  He and his …

Solar Ships – A Different Kind of STOL

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 1 Comment

A good many good ideas for aircraft seem to come from good ideas for serving mankind – with many aircraft and performance-enhancing features coming from the humanitarian or missionary world. A particular need for jungle aviation, or bush flying anywhere, is the capability to make short takeoffs and landing s (STOL).  Jungles and mountain passes often present limited options for setting down, and being able to clear trees and pinnacles can be a life-saving necessity. Solar Ship advertises itself as an ultimate means of penetrating the wilderness.  “No roads.  No fuel.  No infrastructure” sounds like a pipe dream, but seems to be heading toward practical reality, with test flights continuing on at least two prototypes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awAAmwpdV70 Jay Godsall, CEO and …