Sailplane-Like Boeing Cruises on SUGAR

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

Boeing has sustained a decade-long program to develop aircraft that reduce the use of fossil fuels or eliminate it altogether.  SUGAR (Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research) program designers have resorted to configurations that were a part of early high-performance sailplanes, those craft that soar on the energy of the very air around them. Sailplane designers know that longer wings give a lower span loading: the weight of the airplane and its payload is spread over a greater span.  On powered craft, low span loadings give greater rate of climb for the same power and enable throttling back to get the same cruise speeds.  Longer spans usually lead to heavier structures, though.  Spars end up weighing more and wings are subject …

Electric Propulsion for Big Birds

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Graham Warwick reports in the August 25 Aviation Week that NASA is investigating the creation of megawatt-scale electric propulsion systems for airliners.  These would be much more powerful than those in cars or even semi-trucks, and far lighter than equivalent units in ships. NASA’s research involves partnering with the University of Illinois, Ohio State University, General Electric, and Boeing.  NASA Glenn Research Center is working on its own self-cooled, superconducting wound field synchronous motor as part of the overall effort. NASA’s focus, according to the article, “is on electric machines that can be used as generators (sources) and motors (loads) and power electronics that convert AC to DC (rectifiers) and DC to AC (inverters).”  Research includes wiring systems that can distribute …

Aviation Week Recognizes CAFE Foundation’s Efforts

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

As noted in this blog. Dr. Brien Seeley, President of the CAFE Foundation, has been actively promoting the idea of a short to intermediate range Sky Taxi, a two-seat aerial vehicle that would carry its passengers safely from 420-foot runway “pocket airports” to other such runways at other urban and suburban settings, or even pockets situated within major airports.  The safety and utility promised by these electrically-powered aircraft would provide convenient, inexpensive trips for commuters who would enjoy TSA-free travel up to 500 miles at point-to-point speeds exceeding even private LearJets. Aviation Week recently noted efforts by John Langford, CEO of UAV specialist Aurora Flight Sciences, to achieve part of Dr. Seeley’s far-reaching goals with today’s technology.  As Graham Warwick …