Two Similar eSTOLs

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Two different but very similar electric Short Take Off and Landing (eSTOL) aircraft from two different companies are making progress toward realization.  Both are products of teams originally committed to electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) designs, so the shift to different configurations is of interest.  eVTOLs are limited in range by the need to lift their entire weight on their rotors – some for the totality of the flight.  eSTOLs use aerodynamics to enable longer range, and with high-lift devices, can use small fields from which to operate. Dr. Brien Seeley, head of the Sustainable Aviation Foundation, has been a long-time proponent of what he called “pocket airparks.”  These neighborhood or urban sites would be contained within roughly …

eCSTOL: Longer Range Commutes on Less Power

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, SAS, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Competition is growing in the electric Vertical Take Off and Landing market, with 407 potential builders listed in eVTOL News.  Vertical flight takes power, though, and with available batteries limiting range, most such vehicles can make only short hops.  Alternatives that allow speedier, longer flights, in the form of electric Conventional Short Take Off and Landing (eCSTOL) aircraft are in development. Such craft offer the benefit of requiring less power for takeoffs and climbs, being more aeronautically-based than power-based.  Airflow, for instance, claims operating costs for their eCTSOL craft is one-third that of an eVTOL or helicopter. We will look at three eCSTOL craft that seem to making headway at this time.  The infrastructure (in two cases below) to support …

John Langford’s New Direction

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

John Langford has been a leading exponent of new directions in aeronautical technology.  From his work as project manager with MIT’s human-powered Daedalus project to his executive leadership with Aurora Technologies, he has crafted electric, autonomous, and downright astonishing vehicles.   The following video is long, but insightful and exciting.   We see Langford in several early scenes. Having seen Daedalus conquer the Sea of Crete like the mythical first airman, Langford spread his reach into ever more technologically complex problems.  His resume is deceptively short, since he’s held only two jobs since leaving college.  His LinkedIn bio is brief, but telling. “John Langford is the founder and CEO of Electra.aero, a startup developing hybrid electric aircraft for regional mobility. He founded …

Aurora’s Odysseus – Large Enough for Its Mythic Name

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Named for a mythical hero like its evolutionary predecessors, Aurora Flight Science’s Odysseus is a huge, but ephemeral thing. A wingspan larger than the largest 747’s and a weight no greater than a Smart Car’s (around 1,500 pounds) means this airplane will be slow and frail.  A carbon fiber tube structure covered by lightweight Tedlar™ resembles the construction of Solar Impulse, but without the bulk of carrying a pilot. Since its antecedent was the world record holding distance champion in human-powered aircraft, the manner of flight is no surprise.  Its intended altitude is.  Odysseus takes it to the stratosphere. It’s the latest revelation in a thirty-year exploration of low-powered, extreme-endurance aircraft.  Before he founded Aurora, John Langford led a group of …

EAS IX: Aurora Flight Science Set Records without Pilots

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

John Langford, CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, has been demonstrating autonomous aircraft for years – a fact he has shared with Electric Aircraft Symposium audiences several times.  This year he gave a brief history of Aurora, starting with the Sunlight Eagle, an adaptation of the Michelob Light Eagle, a human-powered aircraft that preceded the most successful long-distance flight by an HPA – the Daedalus with a 76-mile trip over the Mediterranean. The 2009 craft was originally powered with bicycle-like pedals and still holds four world records for human-powered flight. For its two test flights at Las Cruces International Airport, the pedals were replaced with solar panels, an electric motor, a high-performance battery, and a flight control system.  Even with all …

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 …