Green Speed Cup Day Two – A Clear Winner

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

Robert Adam, one of the organizers of the Green Speed Cup in Germany and pilot of the Flight Design CTLS that ended the competition in seventh place, shared some information on the challenges faced by pilots in this year’s event. “We had 12-15 knots crosswind today (only a little less yesterday) and Tim-Peter (-Voss) managed this demanding taildragger (the SPACEK s.r.o. SD-1 microlight) calmly!”  This very light and short-coupled airplane flies with a variety of two- and four-stroke engines, but Voss’ had a Verner JVC-360 four-stroke unit of 38 horsepower.  It averaged a little over four liters per hour fuel consumption per 100 kilometers (59 mpg) over the practice day and two contest days.  In the Green Flight Challenge, it would …

Green Speed Cup – Training Day is Over and Day One Establishes a Record

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

Happily for those of us who champion the idea of electric aircraft, the practice day and day one of the Green Speed Cup in Strausberg, Germany fetched a world electric aircraft distance record for e-Genius and an outstanding showing for all concerned.  This beginning for the third running of the Cup sets a high standard for the coming days. The Green Speed Cup has elements of soaring flight through the use of thermals, careful speed flying that emphasizes fuel economy, and precise flight planning with attention to the planned route, winds aloft, and power settings. Green Speed Cup organizers map out a series of triangular routes to test the limits of piloting skills and airplane efficiency.  As the organizers explain, …

Avoiding Propeller Strikes on Electric Aircraft

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

At last year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium, Ron Gremban, developer of the Prius plug-in hybrid, shared several questions about promoting safety in electric aircraft.  One aspect that provoked deep thought was that of safety for those working around an electric airplane, whose propeller could start quietly and possibly strike an unaware bystander.  During the Green Flight Challenge, it was noteworthy that unlike their gasoline-powered counterparts which idled while awaiting takeoff, the Pipistrel G4 and e-Genius awaited their turn to launch with propellers at rest, only spinning when commanded – and very quietly at that. The question of avoiding prop strikes found at least one answer at EAS VII.  Karl Kaser demonstrated, in model form, his ePropeller Safety Device (eSD), noting “the …

Flying e-Genius for Two Years

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At this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium, Rudolf Voit Nitschmann, Len Schumann, and Ingmar Geiss shared their well-documented experiences with e-Genius, second place winner in 2011’s Green Flight Challenge.  Flown by Erik Raymond and Klauss Ohlmann, the airplane managed 397.5 passenger miles per gallon on its 200-mile trek around a closed circuit between Santa Rosa, California and the distant geothermal power plants that provided the electricity for its flight. As Voit Nitschmann, leader of the e-Genius team since 2005 noted, one must design electric aircraft around the beneficial aspects of such vehicles to gain the greatest performance.  Originally slated to be hydrogen powered, e-Genius mounts its 59-pound motor on the leading edge of the vertical rudder, more difficult with a heavier …

Pipistrel,PADA, and “Gus” Raspet

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

Pipistel, the innovative Slovenian company that won the Green Flight Challenge with its G4 electric four-seater, continues to earn plaudits from the aviation industry. At this year’s AirVenture, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual gathering at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the company was honored with the Dr. August Raspet Memorial Award and original and pace-setting design work exemplified in Pipistrel products. The Exerimental Aircraft Association has awarded the “Dr. August Raspet Memorial Award” annually since 1960 “to a person who has made outstanding advancements in the field of light aircraft design and the Experimental Aircraft Association.”  John Thorp, Lockheed engineer and designer, was the first recipient, with those following including Curtiss Pitts, Burt Rutan, Alan and Dale Klapmeier and Gordon Pratt. Taja Boscarol, …

Vimeo Viewing of First Ever Electric Aircraft Charging Station

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Dr. Brien Seeley, President of the CAFE Foundation, points us toward a video his son Damon just posted to Vimeo.  It depicts part of the 2011 Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google, for which the Foundation played host. Dr. Seeley explains, “NASA’s Chief Technologist Joe Parrish refers to the Wright Brothers in the video as Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire and I cut the hose to a gasoline dispenser nozzle.”  The symbolic hose is then proudly replaced by a very real electric charging station for airplanes, capable of providing a continuous 9,600 Watts to each of 12 aircraft and used to charge the Pipistrel G-4, e-Genius and Embry-Riddle’s hybrid Stemme during the contest. The video features great in-flight footage of …

A Weighty Matter

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Several readers have asked for the weights of the Green Flight Challenge competitors.  Here they are, pound for pound, among the most efficient flying machines on the planet. Those who wish can calculate different takes on that efficiency, including overall glide ratios for the course, ton-miles per gallon energy equivalent, or more exotic parameters.   Empty Weight Takeoff Weight in Competition   Pounds Pounds e-Genius 1670.2 2070.2 Pipistrel   G4 2491.0 3294.1 Embry-Riddle 1970.0 2370.0 Phoenix 754.0 1199.7  

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 …

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 …

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 …