Wright Electric, ARPA-E, and Life’s Report Card

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If, as the infamous cartoon in the New Yorker proclaimed, “Money is life’s report card,” Jeff Engler’s Wright Electric got a least a B+ for its current semester.  While not as flush with cash as firms like Joby Aviation, eHang, or Volocopter, Wright received significant recognition for its initiative in designing high-efficiency electric motors with a high-frequency inverter and “an aggressive cooling strategy.”  The $647,039 ARPA-E grant will further Wright’s work on the ARPA-E ASCEND Project. ASCEND stands for Aviation-class Synergistically Cooled Electric-motors with iNtegrated Drives, a sure-fire Scrabble winner and pretty tortuous acronym. Phase one of the project takes the team through the detailed design and subcomponent testing for the system.  Phase two will see Wright build and demonstrate …

Electric Aviation Group Goes Big

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Emulating bird flight has been a big part of man’s desire to fly through the years.  The latest in ornithological look-alikes comes from the Electric Aviation Group in the United Kingdom.  Their creation seem to be an outgrowth of last year’s somewhat controversial Bird of Prey concept displayed by Airbus at several prominent airshows. Designed to have a “certain ‘Wow’ factor,” the model took its cues from hawks and eagles, including a high-arched wing blended into the upper fuselage.  It featured wingtips much like a bird’s, with primary feathers ostensible capable of morphing to control banking and even adverse yaw in a turn. Even its patriotic tail feathers were indeed feather-like and added to the avian quality of the aircraft. …

Wright Electric Reveals Big Plans

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While most anticipated new electric aircraft don’t seem to exceed 50 seats, Wright Electric has begun a more ambitious program for its 186-seat electric airliner, Wright 1.  In a January 30 press meeting at the Refinery Hotel in lower Manhattan, Wright announced plans to move forward with their design and testing program for a substantial electric airliner. Wright CEO Jeffrey Engler promised: “Wright Electric is dedicated to bringing low-emissions 186-seat electric planes systems to market. Wright Electric’s mission is to make commercial aviation greener, and our megawatt engine program is the next step in making our mission a reality.” Wright’s plans include moving its headquarters to Albany, New York, “to take advantage of the extraordinary local engineering talent.”  Wright will …

Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Siemens Team Up on Hybrid Airliner

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As many of your editor’s friends know, he is often lured to trolling the tabloids, looking for juicy bits about the royal family or Hollywood royalty.  Recently, while perusing the Daily Mail* for news of the upcoming Harry/Meaghan nuptials, he came across the big-headline news that three European power players – Rolls-Royce, Airbus, and Siemens, are collaborating on creating a testbed for a hybrid power system. The trio will take a Bae 146 four-engine regional jet, convert it to a hybrid demonstrator by 2020, and have a production plane in place by 2030.  The high-wing airplane has four turbofans in place now, but the partners will replace one with a Siemens two-megawatt electric motor powered by a Rolls-Royce two-megawatt generator …

Paris to London Using No Fossil Fuels

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Jeff Engler fired up a start-up, Wright Electric, about a year ago.  Last week, he presented at the Y Combinator Winter 2017 Demo Day – a semi-annual event where venture capitalists can meet the latest in venturesome mendicants.  Tech Crunch describes the firm’s goals, which include electric flights between London and Paris on no fossil fuels – ambitious to say the least. “Wright Electric wants to build the world’s first electric airplane (at least the first 150 seat electric airliner). One of the main reasons airlines like Southwest can offer low fares is that they pre-purchase gas, but Wright sees an opportunity to make flights even cheaper by using electric planes instead. The company is targeting the 30 percent of …