AutoFlight Celebrates Two Milestones

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, hydrogen, Hydrogen Fuel, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

AutoFlight, the Chinese firm founded by Tian Yu (Yuneec), celebrated two milestones, although maybe not “firsts” as described in the company’s press releases.  Both, however, are impressive and worthy of note. First Intercity Flight AutoFlight claims to have flown the first inter-city electric air-taxi demonstration flight between the southern Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai.  In an autonomous trip, AutoFlight’s five-seat Prosperity eVTOL (electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) aircraft flew the 50km (31 miles) route from Shenzhen to Zhuhai. The flight across the Pearl River Delta took just 20 minutes, a journey that would require three hours by car.  For those with the funds to make the flight the difference in time is incalculable. According to the company, “This marks the first public flight of an eVTOL aircraft on a cross-sea and inter-city route, spanning across the bay where the Pearl River meets the sea, connecting the two southern Chinese cities.”  In 2021, Australians flew a Pipstrel Alpha Electro …

Nudging, Then Doubling an Electric Distance Record

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

Suddenly, we’re seeing new electric aircraft nudging, then doubling an electric distance record.  First, Autoflight in China and then Beta in America achieve higher ranges than that previously achieved by Joby. Jules Verne Saw It Coming In two late 19th-century novels, Robur the Conqueror and Master of the World, Jules Verne chronicled the fictional adventurers of a mad inventor who thought he could dissuade world leaders from practicing war by bombing them from his Albatross flying warship.  A great deal like Captain Nemo of Nautilus fame, Robur uses violence to stop violence.  Both protagonists fail in their efforts. The Albatross, mistaken as its objectives were, is perhaps an inspiration for today’s eVTOLs, propellers spinning for lift and for forward motion.  Verne even prophesied fueling the Albatross with water, perhaps an early vision of today’s water-splitting to produce green hydrogen. Autoflight With far fewer rotors and propellers, Autoflight achieved a successful transition flight from vertical liftoff to forward flight.  This delicate …

Autoflight Lifts Off and Transitions

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Autoflight, the latest outlet for Tian Yu’s creativity, has demonstrated a successful transition from vertical lift to forward flight.  Yu, the founder and CEO of Yuneec, fielded a wide range of drones, motors, and eventually an ultralight electric aircraft under the Greenwings name. Yuneec Goes to Oshkosh He managed to obtain FAA approval for flights of his Yuneec e430, an electric two-seat lightplane, at Oshkosh in 2009.  At that time, Ed Warnock, CEO of the Perlan Project, called your editor to allow him to hear Yuneec powerplants humming audibly in their display area on Wittman Field. Eric Lindbergh tested the Yuneec e-Spyder, a derivation of Tom Pehigny’s design.  A pair of e-Spyders showed up at AirVenture in 2013, becoming the first electric airplanes to fly in formation at that event.  They were joined by Mark Beierle’s eGull in the ultralight area, an electric threesome that showed great promise. Yuneec faded from the American scene for a while, seeming to concentrate …

AutoflightX Returns Tian Yu to Forefront

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A Long Developmental Background Tian Yu headed Yuneec, a pioneering firm in electric flight.  In 2009 his company had several motors and one- and two-seat aircraft flying.  They even received certification from the FAA for the two-seat E430 and shipped it to Oshkosh, where it made its public flying debut at that year’s AirVenture.   At the 2013 AirVenture, Greenwing, an affiliate of Yuneec, fielded two e-Spyders, which pulled a first with several two-electric-airplane formation flights.  Despite being a major supplier of hobby drones and an early developer of powered parachutes, Yuneec seems to have gone into a dormant state, with a new company, AutoFlightX, coming to the forefront. First shown as the BAT600 concept vehicle in  2017 (There seems to be an interim organization shift at the time), the craft was intended to be either hybrid or pure electric, and would have two forward and two rear coaxial positions for eight lifting propellers, one pusher propeller for flight , and …

The Sustainable Aviation Symposium – A Wealth of Knowledge

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Coming May 6th and 7th, the first-ever Sustainable Aviation Symposium will take place at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay Hotel. This year’s presenters include an international array of accomplished talent in aerodynamics, power, and energy storage, with a few surprises on tap.  Keynote speakers include: NASA Chief Scientist Dennis Bushnell PADA Trophy winner and Pipistrel Designer Dr. Tine Tomazic Dr. Joseph Kallo of the DLR (Germany’s NASA) Lehigh University’s Dr. Justin Jaworski Pelican Aero Group’s Philip Barnes Additional presentations include Nobel Prize winner Dr. Benjamin Santer of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Eric Raymond, the highest time solar pilot in the world (his latest 6-seat solar aircraft pictured above); Dr. Yi Cui of Stanford University with the latest in battery technology, Dr. Daniel P. Raymer on Inspirations from the Vought 173 and PADA Trophy winner Boris Popov, whose ballistic parachutes have saved hundreds of lives.  Another dozen, including NASA battery expert Dr. Eric Darcy and Siemens e-Aircraft head Dr. Frank …

China Permits Two-Seat Electric Aircraft

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Jane Zhanf of Silk Wings Aviation (see note), an aircraft consulting firm, commented on an earlier post about the RX1E, an airplane designed by Shenyang University students and demonstrated at two airshows over the last two years.  Similar to the Yuneec (GreenWings) E430, it is a totally different design. “CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) just awarded[a]TDA (Type Design Approval) to them! “By the way, Yuneec E430 is not widely known in China, not an excuse for the wrong claim of being #1 from China though.  (Editor’s Note: The E430 is being developed by GreenWings, now based in California.  It uses a Yuneec motor.) “Given FAA and EASA don’t support electric SLSA (Special Light Sport Aircraft – allowed to be used for instruction by the FAA) yet (correct me if wrong), RX1E maybe world first “certified” electric LSA.” The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has apparently allowed flights by the Pipistrel WattsUp at the Blois, France fly-in last year and demonstrations …

AEAC Pulls in First 20 Deposits

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Aero Electric Aircraft Corporation (AEAC) and Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology made joint announcements about their signing a “Training Program Development and Deposit Agreement” for the school to reserve the first 20 delivery positions for “Sun Flyer” solar-electric training aircraft being developed by AEAC.  This first such agreement by a major training program and an aircraft maker is a milestone for this new technology. The press announcement quotes Peter Harris, CEO of Spartan College, saying, “This agreement signifies our commitment to innovation and to serving the next generation of pilots. Spartan College is honored to be the first training school to formalize our collaboration on a complete training system that will make flight training more modern, accessible and economical than ever before.” The same announcement has George Bye, CEO of AEAC, thanking Spartan College for their collaboration and support. “Our goal with Sun Flyer is to achieve lower operating costs and enhanced safety features for a training airplane by …

AVweb Readers Weigh In on Electric Aircraft, Green Flight Challenge

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

Mary Grady of AVweb started an expanding dialogue with her recent opinion piece on NASA and the CAFE Foundation’s Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google.   The stimulating and varied points of view reflect what is probably floating around in the general public’s perception of “green aviation,” ranging from total ignorance of what has been done already, to confusion about what it all means, to well-honed, technically aware arguments on both sides of the issue. Her thought that electrification is, “the first step down a long and bumpy road that could take general aviation in new directions,” was reinforced with the following reflections that might be similar to those that readers of this blog often experience. “For people who fly for fun — presuming there are many of those left, it seems to be one of the fastest-shrinking segments of GA — electric airplanes are sure to appeal. They are easier to deal with, and quieter, with less vibration. A few …

In my dreams I fly like a bird… Martin Wezel 1964 – 2011

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

It takes intelligence, courage and a special spark to design, build, and test fly an airplane.  It becomes a deep loss for all in the aviation community when that spark is extinguished.  We are saddened to learn of the death of Martin Wezel in the crash of a Yuneec E1000 he was scheduled to fly in the Green Flight Challenge.  Wezel was designer and distributor of aircraft such as the Viva, a high-performance motorglider that had brought him to the attention of Tian Yu, Chairman of Yuneec International. Yu reflected on the loss of Martin in a company announcement. In Germany, his wife Petra lamented the loss of her “dear man and best friend,” and vowed to continue operating the company to which he had given his dreams of flight. The CAFE Foundation joins in mourning the passing of a dedicated and brilliant leader.

Getting Wired on the e-Spyder

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Stephan Boutenko of Alternair passed this along, and it is worth a read.  Jason Paur of Wired Magazine’s Autopia web site reports on flying Tom Peghiny’s e-Spyder, a combination of Tom’s Flightstar ultralight with a Yuneec motor, controller and battery. Paur’s impressions are highly positive, with the desire to continue the experience.  He notes, “Flying on battery power is about the unique experience of flying without the noise, vibration and smells of a traditional engine pulling you along. It’s an entirely different sensation. And like gliding, it is about the challenge of flying within the limitations of the aircraft and maximizing your time aloft. “’It’s like hypermiling a flight,’ Peghiny says.”  Hypermiling in automobiles is the act of conserving fuel by tactics such as accelerating gently to a speed somewhat above the average desired, then coasting to a point below that average and accelerating again.  Electric aircraft may require such tactics for at least the immediate future until battery technology …