The Electric Firefly Sets Two World Records

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Jean-Luc Soullier has converted Michel Colomban’s two-cylinder internal combustion MC-30 Luciole (Firefly) into an electric aircraft – not without some teething problems, but with plenty of promise.  His group, LSA, Luxembourg Spécial Aerotechnics, consists of Jean-Luc, Martin Marschner von Helmreich, and Fabrice Tummers – and has terrific ambitions.

LSA's MC-30E during a period of "travail"

Fabrice, in response to questions about the record attempts, sent the following: “Our target in 2011 is to realize the totality of the world records of the F.A.I. in the category RAL 1E, and cross the Mediterranean Sea.  The first attempt [a speed record] was not ratified by the F.A.I. but the medium speed recorded was 160 kilometers per hour (99.4 mph) over 15 kilometers. (9.3 miles)”

With the 118 pounds of batteries now on board, the airplane has more than one hour endurance, but a proposed switch to hydrogen fuel cells will allow six-hour flights and make Mediterranean crossings a breeze. 

Looking More tidy on display in Monaco

If the team can keep the motor and controller cool.  Reports show the controller shuts down when it reaches 320 Amps output – something that happens with an “aggressive” setting on the ground-adjustable propeller to allow a good rate of climb.  Jean-Luc experienced this at about 30 feet altitude on one takeoff, where an immediate shutdown was least welcome.  The team is exploring other options for the controller, possibly even doubling up on the current unit.  A big problem is that the HPD-13.5 motor is limited to 16 kW for limited times, pushing its performance to its limits.

Since their power system is essentially the same as that used by Calin Gologan on his Elektra One and the two aircraft are similar in performance, LSA’s detailed weight listing for components is instructive.

Bare cells (batteries): 54000 grams (118 pounds)
Motor and controller: 5500 grams (12.1 pounds)
Propeller: 2500 grams (5.5 pounds)
Mounts and brackets: 1500 grams (3.3 pounds)
Cables and connections: 500 grams (1.1 pounds)
Engine covers: 500 grams (1.1 pounds)
Instruments, systems RCOM, various: 3500 grams (7.7 pounds)
Subtotal: 68000 grams  (a little over 149 pounds)

Fabrice promised another speed record attempt the week of April 10, and the team has managed to deliver today in Friedrichshafen at Aero Expo.  According to the team’s web site, “LSA was in Germany to produce two world records (RAL 1E FAI) with Jean-Luc Soullier flying his MC-30E in the presence of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.  These two records are: speed of 15 kilometers in a straight line and return [at] the maximum altitude.  These records were made in Monaco banner.”  The latter would certainly encourage the Prince’s interest.

Jean-Luc and LSA’s open forum includes the team’s tragedies and triumphs.  Their first flights in September 2010 received little attention, but their latest public displays certainly shine a new light on their courage and conviction.

Note: Readers might be surprised to see Jean-Luc’s Colomban MC-15 Cri-Cri with Plettenberg model airplane motors on the first of 62 pages of the forum.  That flew in 2009, and will be the topic for a future CAFE blog entry.  Surprises abound.

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