EAS VIII: Bruno Mombrinie and Dr. Brien Seeley – Economies and Practical Considerations for Sky Taxis

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

Bruno Mombrinie, a director for the CAFE Foundation, and Dr. Brien Seeley, founder and President of the organization, gave a one-two presentation on pocket airports and Sky Taxis that examined the practical and operational facets of such a program, first described in detail in a joint NASA/CAFE Foundation document.  According to Bruno’s CAFE biography, “As a freshman, he helped build MIT’s Chrysalis human powered airplane. Later that summer he got to fly the plane several times. ‘The feeling of being so, so high (39ft)…to fly under my own power was beyond…I just wanted to burst…actually I was so out of breath from the effort, I could hardly mouth ‘yippee!’”  (The Chrysalis, and other MIT designs led to Daedalus, the HPA that flew from Crete to Sicily on April 23, 1988 – 72.44 miles in less than four hours.) This experience with extreme pedal power probably helped inspire his work on the Negative Mass two-piece crankset, reputedly the world’s lightest and stiffest bicycle crankset.  His …

Designing Airplanes That Shape Shift to Fly Electrically

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Dr. Brien Seeley has a dream, often repeated in this blog, of bringing pocket airparks into our neighborhoods.  But the ideal of commuting by small two-seat aircraft and alleviating the crushing gridlock on our highways can only be realized with aircraft that are quiet, able to land and take off within a football field (much like ultralights), and yet cruise at up to 200 miles per hour (much like high-performance lightplanes).  This amalgamation of Quicksilver and Lancair might seem unlikely, but Dan Raymer showed attendees at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium a possible solution to the dichotomy. Raymer, head of Conceptual Research Corporation and author of Aircraft Design: A Conceptual Approach, and Dan Raymer’s Simplified Aircraft Design for Homebuilders, is an internationally-recognized expert in RDS, or robust design strategies.  RDS is defined as a systematic approach to finding optimum values of design factors which result in economical designs with low variability.  As a recognized expert in this area, Raymer brought his …

Even in Second Place, VC200 Dominates Awards

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Volocopter has evolved from a pilot sitting on a Pilates ball surrounded by multiple model airplane motors to the VC200 – the first Volocopter to carry two people, according to parent company e-volo.  As recipient of a 2 million euros grant from the federal ministry of economics and technology, e-volo has worked with a research and industry syndicate to craft the VC200. A sleeker, more finished-looking project than the original flight vehicle, the VC200 held pride of place 15 meters above the crowd attending the “GreenTec Awards” in Berlin, Europe’s largest environmental and economic prize.  Completed just in time for the event, and assembled in the auditorium where it received its award, the first prototype of the VC200 was an ever-present reminder of its green credentials. Although the little “David” company earned a second place award, with “Goliath” Airbus taking top honors, “We are proud that we are placed tightly behind a global player such as Airbus,” said e-volo-CEO Alexander …

Dr. Seeley Speaks at AIAA Conference, NASA Dryden

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

Dr. Brien Seeley, Founder and President of the CAFE Foundation, has been giving a series of talks at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture 2013, before a gathering of technical experts at NASA’s Dryden Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force and at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) International Powered Lift Conference in Los Angeles. The International Powered Lift Conference focuses on the latest developments in Vertical or Short Takeoff and Landing (V/STOL) aircraft research, concepts, and programs, something of great interest to CAFE in its development of airplanes capable of using pocket airports. Pocket Airports will require a special type of airplane – electric, according to Dr. Seeley, and capable of taking off with a ground roll of 90 feet (home plate to first base), able to climb at an angle that would clear the 150-foot Matterhorn at Disneyland by the time it reaches the end of a 420-foot runway, and being nearly inaudible as it crosses the …

Brien Seeley to Speak at AirVenture’s Innovations Pavilion

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Dr. Brien Seeley, founder and head of the CAFE Foundation, presented his vision for the future of small, electric commuter aircraft at the seventh annual Electric Aircraft Symposium held in late April at Santa Rosa, California.  He gave a forceful, detailed picture of why we need to lift some of the traffic from the highways and examined the benefits that society and the environment would accrue from such sweeping changes. Imagine, for instance, not having to build another highway or on-ramp because existing roads were capable of handling the decreased surface traffic without further expansion.  Think of being able to hop over traffic on a 50-to-400 mile excursion – something not handled well at all by current surface or aerial alternatives.  Think of a “pocket” airport that took up only a few acres of land, and that could be sited safely within walking distance of your home.   Finally, imagine this costing no more than current, ground-bound options.  That is …

Seventh Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium Unveils New Technology

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Feedback, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

This year’s CAFE Foundation Electric Aircraft Symposium in Santa Rosa, California had surprises from several sources, including new aircraft, batteries, and materials that will help make the future a good place to be.  Some technologies are maturing and some are about to spring forth in ways we won’t see coming. We’ll be looking at each presentation in detail in future postings, but know for certain that the electric aircraft movement is turning a corner as things become integrated in an ever-quicker progression.  We will see significant announcements in the next few months. The Symposium included not only technology, but seriously looked at how neighborhoods and society in general can integrate these new technologies in a more responsible way than the current helter-skelter world which pulls us away from family and community.  What point is there in having magical things and messy lives?

Drs. Seeley and Moore Hit One Out of the Airpark

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The January 2011 issue of Popular Mechanics resurrects the perennial hope for a flying automobile.  The cover taunts, “(Go Ahead, Laugh) But NASA, DARPA & the FAA Are Serious.”  Sharon Weinberger taunts some makers a bit in her article, “Driving on Air,” as she looks at a variety of Transformer-style vehicles that can travel by land or air with the fewest inconveniences.  She notes the differences between propelling cars and planes, and looks at extremely different modes of giving people personal aerial transport, including the Moeller Skycar (“Inventor Paul Moeller has been developing the concept for nearly 50 years.  To date, the M400X has only hovered on a tether.”), the Martin Jetpack, The Cartercopter, and the Terrafugia Transition that’s been getting an enormous press following (and a featured spot in the Hammacher Schlemmer Christmas catalog) lately. She ends with an overview of Dr. Mark Moore’s Puffin, detailed in this blog in January.  After explaining that a commuter using the Puffin would rise …