Pipistrel Opens World’s First True Airplane Charging Station

Dean Sigler Batteries, GFC, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

On August 30. Pipistrel inaugurated the first electric charging station to fully warrant the name, charging one of their own Alpha Electro trainers.  The project was co-financed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the European Union from the European Social Fund.  Led by Pipistrel, the LECAD Laboratory, and the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, mentors and students developed and constructed a fully-functioning station. Technical characteristics of the charging station:  – capable of charging two electric aircraft at the same time – current strength: 2 x 20 kW – charge speed: one hour to fully charge Alpha Electro – operating voltage 3f 400V AC – WiFi connection to the network As Pipistrel explains, “The goal of the project was the production and installation of a (public) charging station for electric airplanes, since in the filling of electric aircraft, in practice, the need for stationary charging has been shown.” Mentors and students from LECAD Laboratory, the Academy of …

Pipistrel’s Flight Through Wine Country

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Brien Seeley forwards a video of Pipistrel’s historic, Collier Trophy nominated electric powered flight.  He notes, “It applies its performance data file and a weather map overlay to annotate scenes of the visual beauty of the Sonoma Wine Country,” a feature that will also delight visitors to Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport when they attend the electric aircraft flight demonstrations that are part of this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium. The Team will present details of their aircraft and its achievement at the 6th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium on April 27, 2012 in Santa Rosa, for which registration can be obtained online. The video will remind one of the weather overlays Dr. Jack Langelaan created for his autonomous soaring exercises, and which were also shown to be helpful in general aviation flight planning and execution.  

Green Flight Challenge Final Results

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 15 Comments

Steve Williams, CAFE Foundation board member and e-totalizer guru, released the final results for the NASA Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google, held at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport from September 25 through October 1, 2011.  Figures show a profound difference between the two electric winners and the two gas-powered and hybrid runners-up. All competitors flew extremely clean motorgliders with demonstrated lift-to-drag ratios between 25:1 and 35:1.  Possible explanations for the large differences in energy use include low cooling drag for electric aircraft and the efficiency of electric motors – but the differences are still surprising. Note that a little over 11 US gallons of gasoline (energy equivalent) were used to fly seven people (Embry Riddle’s Eco-Eagle flew with only one pilot) over a total of 725.5 miles (Embry Riddle flew a shorter total distance on both “runs”).  This is an enormous achievement for all concerned and a significant increase in efficiency over even the best general aviation craft available today. Congratulations are …

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 …

Green Flight Challenge Winners

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Monday, October 3 was the second day of Nobel Prize announcements, but also marked the Green Flight Challenge Expo, sponsored by Google and staged under the control tower on Moffett Field, home of NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California. The four airplanes that flew in the Challenge at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma Country Airport in Santa Rosa, California were joined by Greg Stevenson’s full-size mockup of his GFC design and a Pipistrel Virus that had won an earlier NASA/CAFE Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) Challenge.  Stevenson’s airplane was a reminder that there were numerous entrants that, for a variety of reasons, could not attend.  There is a huge number of aircraft in the wings, so to speak, that will fill these pages in the next months and years. 20 exhibitors showed off their visions of a greener future, and three rows of tents protected exhibitors and their displays from the rain that started mid-afternoon. At about 11:00 a.m., attendees were bussed to  Building …

Green Flight Challenge – Days Three and Five

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

As if in answer to the most fervent prayers by CAFE Foundation organizers, Tuesday, September 27 dawned as a bright, windless morning, perfect for the planned 200 -mile aerial trek that each of four teams would undertake in the Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google. Each would fly a large, tightly-followed out-and-return loop around the Sonoma Valley, reaching the radio tower array on the peaks north of Geyserville, then returning for one of three passes (the fourth being the descent to land) over the CAFE Foundation hangar at the west end of the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.  Each would have to reach at least 4,000 feet at the end of a 17-mile climb and would need to track within one mile on either side of the Challenge course’s centerline.  Pilots would need to stay on the outside edge of turnpoints, but shave their margin to within one-half mile on each pylon-type turn. To help monitor that precise flying, Steve …

Green Flight Challenge – Day Two

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Monday morning, September 26, many of us had our first view of an electric airplane in flight. After the weighing team rolled Jim Lee and Jeff Shingleton’s Phoenix motorglider from the hangar onto its impound location and completed initial weigh-ins for the remaining three aircraft, the airplanes were staged for the first flying event of the Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google. With technical inspections and weighing completed, the four airplanes lined up to check their noise levels and their ability to clear an imaginary 50-foot barrier atop a cherry picker  2,000 feet from the top of the number “9” on runway 19 at Santa Rosa, California’s Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.  As each aircraft rolled out to their takeoff point, the cluster of photographers under the cherry picker focused and waited for a green flag to fall at the takeoff point. All the aircraft passed cleared the 50-foot flag, and e-Genius was judged to be quietest of the entrants …

Green Flight Challenge – Day One

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation

  Sunday, September 25 marked the kickoff of the Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google, a NASA Centennial Challenge managed by the CAFE Foundation, with a thorough technical inspection for each entrant, followed by a weigh-in.  Held at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, the event is an event of international importance, despite the small turnout. With only four entrants making an appearance out of the original 13 that had announced and made it through the rigorous design review, there might be cause for disappointment. Consider, though, the Berblinger competition held in April at the Aero Expo in Friedrichshafen, Germany. 36 teams signed up, 24 made it to the Expo, 13 started the course and eight finished. The GFC has a comparable start-finish ratio, with many of the same issues stalling non-starters here as in Germany: lack of funds  and schedule, regulation and fabrication difficulties. Despite the dropouts, Pipistrel, Stuttgart University, Phoenix Aircraft, and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) managed to field teams. In a …

Pipistrel Preparing for Green Flight Challenge

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Michael Coates, American distributor for Pipistrel, shares some pictures and videos of the G4, four-seat, twin-fuselage electric motorglider a “technology demonstrator” for the company and its entry in the Google/NASA/CAFE Foundation Green Flight Challenge, which starts Sunday, September 25 in Santa Rosa, California.  The Pipistrel team, headed by Jack Langelann of Pennsylvania State University, is working out Hollister, California’s airport, about 70 miles south of San Francisco and 150 miles from Santa Rosa.  The team expects to fly to Charles M. Schulz field on “Friday or Saturday of the this week” for the competition. Pilot Robin Reid guided the big bi-fuselage craft through its paces and brought back this in-flight video, which shows the visibility is better than one would expect – except of the other fuselage, the nose of which can be seen just under the central propeller. Coates reports, “Hollister airport has been our base for the last four weeks as we continue to extend the flight envelope …

Google to Sponsor Green Flight Challenge

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

Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google to bring historic firsts to aviation Aviation’s largest ever prize to be awarded at Moffett Field October 3 during exposition hosted by NASA SANTA ROSA, CA (July 29, 2011) – The CAFE Foundation announced today that Google will sponsor the NASA Centennial Challenge flight competition known as the Green Flight Challenge (GFC). CAFE (Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency) will conduct the event from September 25 through October 2, 2011 at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.  The NASA-funded prize purse of $1.65M makes this the largest ever prize for aviation.  Competing aircraft must demonstrate at least 100 mph and 200 passenger MPG on a 200 mile flight.  The aircraft in the Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google represent a diverse mix of singular prototypes created expressly for the competition by some of the world’s top designers. Most will be propelled by batteries and electric motors, some by bio-fuel or hybrid. All competing aircraft will be …