Mary Grady, A Great Aviation Journalist

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I met Mary Grady at the 2011 Sun ‘n Fun Flyin in Lakeland, Florida.  After that, she and I swapped tips and leads for articles.  Her work at AVweb and for Belvoir Publications was professional and polished – always.  I’m using AVweb’s tribute to her, especially since it shows her many facets.  She will be missed. Dean Sigler Mary Grady, one of AVweb’s longest-serving, most dedicated and respected contributing editors, died at her home in Warwick, Rhode Island, on March 12 after a long illness. Mary was one of the founding members of the internet experiment that became AVweb and continued as a key staff writer until her health challenges prompted a leave of absence earlier this year. She worked for AVweb for 20 years and wrote thousands of articles. To the best of anyone’s recollection she never missed a deadline. “Mary had a quiet strength in her professional skills, but also in the way she carried herself,” said Tim Cole, AVweb’s editorial director. “When deadlines loomed or …

Two Siemens-Powered Electric Aircraft Debut

Dean Sigler Announcements, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

A U. S. Debut in Chicago Mary Grady, writing in AVweb, reports that “Siemens brought its prototype electric aircraft to the U.S. this week for the first time, showcasing the airplane at the company’s Innovation Day in Chicago. ‘Electric propulsion is one of the transformative technologies that will help the industry meet the goals of reduced fuel, emissions and noise,’ said Teri Hamlin, vice president of electric propulsion for Siemens. ‘By accomplishing testing on our systems on select flying testbeds in the lower power classes, we are gaining valuable experience and knowledge that accelerates and validates our other developments in hybrid-electric propulsion systems in the high power classes.’“ Testing in Waco Further testing of the technology will take place in Waco, Texas, at the Texas State Technical College Airfield.  The eFusion with its Siemens 55-kilowatt electric propulsion unit, “Will be key in data collection on new electric propulsion systems, enabling safety standards and certification efforts for the aerospace market.”  Lessons …

Larry Page’s Flying Car(s)?

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A3 backed by Airbus, EHang 184 from China, and Zee from Larry Page (head of Google) – Silicon Valley seems an unlikely source of aeronautical breakthroughs, but several entrepreneurial outings from Airbus, Chinese startups, and Zee.Aero, led by a secretive Larry Page, have interest growing.  A pair of recent flights by Zee’s craft in Hollister, California have generated coverage – and speculation. Larry Page’s Two Companies It turns out Page has a second company, Kitty Hawk, taking yet another path toward electrified flying cars with something like a large quadcopter – not unlike the eHang 184.  Neither Zee.Aero nor Kitty Hawk is affiliated with Google, both funded out of Page’s largesse.  One theory is that his two companies, the first started by noted aerodynamicist Ilan Kroo and the second headed by Sebastian Thrun, will engage in a friendly competition to create the best device for future development. Considering the secrecy, or perhaps because of it, a few recent flights by …

Your Battery is on Fire – and That’s a Good Thing

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Mary Grady’s report at AvWeb alerted your editor to this exciting development. Imagine a battery capable of seven times the energy output of any lithium battery now in existence, made of non-toxic, easily recycled materials.  One aspect of this new energy source might give you pause, however.  You have to set fire to the battery to extract all that energy. With recalls of so-called “hoverboards” and still warm memories of Tesla and 787 Dreamliner battery fires, folks might be excused for wanting to avoid anything that combines fires with batteries.  The new approach, from MIT researchers, uses carbon nanotubes as its base, and these don’t self-ignite like their lithium cousins. Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs* Professor in Chemical Engineering at MIT found that coating a carbon nanotube with combustible material and lighting one end would produce a current as the fire progressed along the tube.  Even though the amount of energy generated was low, Dr. Strano and his students …

Good News and a Bright Future from EAS IX

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Sitting next to your editor for the first day of CAFE’s ninth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, Paul Bertorelli from AVweb, took copious notes, made sound recordings, and during coffee and lunch breaks and in after-hours sessions, interviewed the accomplished faculty at the Symposium.  His thorough and far-reaching reports appear in his last several days’ postings to AVweb.  Having stressed mightily while attempting to take understandable notes from each speaker’s talk, your editor can only be impressed by Paul’s super reportorial abilities, and his communicating the scope and importance of what took place at EAS IX. From your editor’s perspective, several significant things took place this year.  Senior leadership from Airbus and Siemens presented talks affirming their companies’ commitment to making progress in electric aviation, with future plans to develop two and four-seat aircraft for European and American markets from Airbus, and to produce a range of light-weight, commercially-available motors from Siemens. Siemens has 343,000 employees worldwide and revenues of 101.2 …

WattsUp Becomes Alpha Electro – Training Market Warms Up

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

With today’s AVWeb report from Mary Grady at Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany, the wraps are off the commercial reality that Pipistrel is ready to market its Alpha Electro, a new airplane for the training market.   The production version of the former WattsUp, the airplane’s primary mission is to provide training in the pattern for aspiring pilots. Details abound in the video, with Tine Tomazic, Chief Engineer for the Slovenian firm, showing Mary the features of the craft.  One of the best features may be its 100,000 euro price tag, well under pricing for many conventionally-powered light sport aircraft that would compete in the trainer market. Since Aero brings in exhibitors from all over the world and incorporates an E-Flight Expo, one can expect to see the latest developments in electric flight there, all displayed under the motto, “Electrical, Ecological, Evolutionary.“ The Chinese RX1E from Liaoning General Aviation Academy, similar in configuration and slightly lagging in performance to the Electro, is …

FAA Says “No” To Electric Aircraft Passengers

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Many voluminous government documents hold single paragraphs of great importance to the affected parties.  In the case of the FAA’s 322-page Draft Policy 8130(H), a few lines will probably spark intense interest in the small but growing electric aircraft community. According to and verified in Flying magazine, “The FAA is proposing banning passengers from flights in electric-powered aircraft  and ready-to-fly Light Sport aircraft (SLSA) that have been converted to experimental Light Sport (ELSA) aircraft and stopping the aircraft from flying over built up areas or at night.” The Light Aircraft Manufacturer’s Association (LAMA) cites the following and endorses an activist approach to resisting the restrictions: “On page 293 under Clause ‘5. Procedure’ it provides a table by aircraft type for issuing potential restrictions.  The proposed restrictions that are of concern are firstly: “c. Prohibit the carriage of passengers, flight over densely populated areas, and night or instrument flight rules (IFR) operations in the following: “(1) Experimental LSA aircraft that formerly …

AVweb Talks to Dr. Seeley About EAS VI

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The sixth annual Electric Electric Aircraft Symposium, CAFE’s premier event, got a lot of press attention this year, including lead story status from AOPA and acknowledgement from Engadget and AVweb.  We’ll start with the one that’s most fun to listen to – a podcast from AVweb. Mary Grady of AVweb interviewed Dr. Brien Seeley, President of the CAFE Foundation, about the just completed Electric Aircraft Symposium at Santa Rosa, California, which drew participants from at least eight countries and 10 multi-national corporations.  With Federal Aviation Administration representation and a former Environmental Protection Agency head signed up to attend, the Symposium drew some high-level attention this year. Dr. Seeley was enthusiastic about the rapidly maturing technology and industry, with Tom Gunnarson from the FAA and Ronald Gremban of ForSites Corporation working toward standards and practices for electric aircraft.  When asked about the thought that FAA rules for small electric aircraft might be five to 10 years out, Dr. Seeley noted the …

AVweb Readers Weigh In on Electric Aircraft, Green Flight Challenge

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Mary Grady of AVweb started an expanding dialogue with her recent opinion piece on NASA and the CAFE Foundation’s Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google.   The stimulating and varied points of view reflect what is probably floating around in the general public’s perception of “green aviation,” ranging from total ignorance of what has been done already, to confusion about what it all means, to well-honed, technically aware arguments on both sides of the issue. Her thought that electrification is, “the first step down a long and bumpy road that could take general aviation in new directions,” was reinforced with the following reflections that might be similar to those that readers of this blog often experience. “For people who fly for fun — presuming there are many of those left, it seems to be one of the fastest-shrinking segments of GA — electric airplanes are sure to appeal. They are easier to deal with, and quieter, with less vibration. A few …

Kitplanes Covers EAS IV

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Kitplanes, and its on-line sister, AVweb, covered the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium and generated a vido of the event, which includes a thoughtful interview with Dr. Brien Seeley, CAFE Foundation president. Expect to see more media coverage of CAFE Events as the Green Flight Challenge becomes a major aviation event in 2011.