That’s the eSpirit!

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

We reported in the blog four years ago that Embry Riddle Aeronautical University not only displayed their eSpirit of St. Louis at AirVenture that year, but ran the motor for the crowd.  The crowd included Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta, who sat in the cockpit during the runup. The eSpirit of St. Louis A product of Embry-Riddle, eSpirit is finally making its presence on the taxiway known.  Kelly Pratt, writing in the Embry Riddle Aeronautical News, reports, “After nearly four years of perseverance, the Eagle Flight Research Center (EFRC) team at Embry-Riddle is celebrating a milestone in its electric propulsion research: its Diamond HK-36 completed a successful taxi test exclusively on electrical power at the Daytona Beach International Airport.” Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles, has been a guiding factor in eSpirit’s development, and the airplane reflects his grandfather’s “notion of balance between aviation and the environment.” The quarter-mile on the taxiway may seem like a short trip, but student Sanay …

Erik, Eric, Dr. Anderson, Verdego and Hybrid Power

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

In a recent AVWeb Vodcast, Paul Bertorelli interviewed Embry Riddle’s Dr. Pat Anderson on the topic, “Why Electric Airplane Designers Are Turning to Hybrid Drives.”  Battery energy-carrying capability has not fulfilled its promise yet, according to Anderson.  The difference in energy density between fossil fuels and batteries is still too great to fulfill missions involving more than small craft and short distances for the most part.  This outlook caused Dr. Anderson’s associates, Eric Lindbergh and Eric Bartsch to form Verdego Aero, dedicated initially to developing a Diesel-hybrid generator system. They corroborate Dr. Anderson’s sense of current battery technology, their web site answering “Why hybrid?”  They explain, “Electric aircraft are at the forefront of aviation technology, but the energy density of current batteries isn’t yet high enough to support many mission types or aircraft designs.  The power generation systems in the VerdeGo IDEP (Integrated Distributed Electric Propulsion) systems, which use Continental Jet-A Piston Engines, offer 4-8x the equivalent energy density of today’s …

Goodyear Aero Wheel Sparks Controversy

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Aircraft Components, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Goodyear Creates a Flying Tire Displayed this week at the Geneva Auto Show, Goodyear’s new AERO wheel is not just rolling stock, but a possible aeronautical device that could propel a “flying car” skyward.  Not only could it roll along the freeway, it could navigate the vehicle and choose whether to be in highway or aerial mode.  These smart tires could have some problems, though, that could negate their aerial potential, according to some critics. Goodyear’s press release extols the possible virtues of the forward-thinking product: “GENEVA, March 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Goodyear AERO concept is a two-in-one tire designed for the autonomous, flying cars of the future. This concept would work both as a tire for driving on the road and a ‘propeller’ for flying through the sky.” Chris Hensel, Goodyear’s Chief Technology Officer, explains: “For over 120 years Goodyear has obsessively pursued innovations and inventions, partnering with the pioneers driving change and discovery in transport.  With mobility companies looking …

Verdego Aero – Another Variant on VTOL Travel

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

A Controversy for Starters Skeptics abound concerning the current spate of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) machines.  The latest entry in the competition comes from the trio of Erik Lindbergh, Eric Bartsch, and Pat Anderson of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  Their Verdego eight-rotor machine looks a bit like the Airbus A3 Vahana, but has pusher, rather than puller, propellers on the rear wing. On his Linked In page, Bartsch jumps into an ongoing fray with his article, “The Inevitability of Short-Range Urban Aviation – Why I’m Betting Against the “Flying Uber” Skeptics.” It takes aim at the opposing point of view in “Going Direct: On the Insanity of Flying Ubers,” by Plane & Pilot writer Robert Goyer.  To shorten the two arguments to their most primal levels, Eric Bartsch thinks sky taxis are coming and are inevitable.  Goyer thinks the idea is insane and not supported by even basic physics or available mechanical systems.  He doesn’t acknowledge an advantage to having …

What We’re Looking Forward to at AirVenture 2017

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

We’re looking forward to seeing progress in electric aircraft, and this year may be an opportunity to see real breakthroughs. Two from Pipistrel Besides its regular lineup of high-quality aircraft, Pipistel will have two Alpha Electro trainers on display in their display area.  This is the first time these aircraft will be seen in America, and they’ll be at the right of AirVenture’s main entrance gate in sites 86 and 87. In the Ultralight Area Mark Beierle will display and fly Bravo, Richard Steeves’ e-Gull.  This red, white and blue gem features a power system made from Zero Motorcycle components and boasts an impressive rate of climb and exceptional short field capabilities. Another ultralight, the EMG-6 developed over the last few years by Brian Carpenter of Rainbow Aviation/Adventure Aircraft, will show off the REX 30 MGM-Compro motor from the Czech Republic.  The units, with their matching controllers, power dozen of different types of aircraft in Europe, from paramotors to Light …

Powering Imagination in Seattle

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Seattle’s Museum of Flight on Boeing Field will host a one-day event, Powering Imagination, an electric flight symposium organized by Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Presentations will be held in the William M. Allen Theater at the Museum, starting at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 28 and ending at 5:00 p.m.   Admission is free, but RSVP to to guarantee a seat. Topics include an update on the NASA LEAPTech aircraft being designed and built by Joby Aviation and powered by Joby motors.  This 20-motor (!) aircraft will achieve a high coefficient of lift from the motors that distribute thrust over the entire span. Eric Lindbergh will talk about the Quiet Flight Initiative, a multi-pronged approach to designing and crafting airplanes quiet enough to be flown over national parks, areas now off-limits to noisy overflights.  This is one facet of Powering Imagination, the other two Electric Flight and Alternative Fuels. Erik promises video updates from Europe and an …

Open Source Biofuel at Embry-Riddle

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Open source development is a paradigm shift in the way of doing business for many new enterprises, doing away with corporate security and patents to promote the free exchange of information and ideas.  One of the latest efforts, for creating jet biofuel, has senior students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona inviting “the participation of students and academics from universities around the world,” according to Green Air Online.  Companies who could benefit from products such as renewable jet fuel are also invited to join. Much of the work will be based on adding value to the biodiesel transesterification reactor invented by University of Connecticut professor Dr. Richard Parnas.  His small, efficient, and inexpensive process converts waste vegetable oil (WVO) and other biomass, including hemp, into biodiesel or jet fuel. Transesterification, grossly oversimplified, involves exchanging parts of a chemical called an ester with parts of an alcohol. These exchanges can produce new materials such as polyesters and biofuels. Dr. Parnas …

The Sixth Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium

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

The CAFE Foundation will hold its sixth Electric Aircraft Symposium on April 27 and 28, 2012 at the Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa, California and at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, site of the Green Flight Challenge. Not only will there be a stellar lineup of speakers, but flying demonstrations of electric and hybrid aircraft, a first at any EAS. Jack Langelaan, team leader for the GFC-winning Electro Taurus G4 team, and Tine Tomazic from Pipistrel will share insights on the design and flight of the 403.5 epmpg aircraft.  David Calley, Chief Technical Officer for Motor Excellence, will describe ideal low-RPM motors for electric aircraft, and Mark Moore from NASA’s Langley Research Center will share breakthroughs in distributed propulsion.  And that’s all before the first coffee break! Typical of the packed schedules for all EAS’s, the rest of the presentations will fill your brain and lighten your spirit.  Gene Sheehan will discuss his Quickie-like Feuling Green Flight Challenger …

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 – 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 …