[EVDL] Electric airplanes
Saturday, August 7, 2010 9:57 PM
From: "Rick Beebe" <ric k@bee be.o rg>
To: "Electric Vehicle Discussion List" <e v@lis ts.sjs u.e du>
I spent last week at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI; the world's largest
general aviation gathering. Electric aircraft were very much a presence.
There was an electric aircraft symposium with lots of interesting
speakers talking about the trials, tribulations and future of electric
aircraft. There were presentations on aircraft design, motor design, new
batteries, and controllers.
Yuneec (pronounced "unique") Aircraft was there with two machines. An
electric ultralight and a two-seat Light Sport aircraft. I think the
first is a good example of machines that work well within the current
electric limitations. The ultralight will run for an hour on a charge.
That's sufficient for most users and ultralights usually return to where
they took off. Ie it's rare for people to travel places in them. They
also have an electric back-pack powered parachute. That might be really fun.
Their light sport plane can fly for 1.5 to 3 hours but I suspect "range
anxiety" will limit the appeal.
Pipestral USA was showing off their Taurus electric moto-glider. Another
example of a reasonably good application for electric.
There were a couple kit plane manufacturers showing off prototype
electric power plants for their kits. Sonex was one, though they seem to
be devoting more time this year to their micro-jet powered plane.
Sikorsky unveiled a test-bed electric helicopter. It's a Schweizer
S-300C with a honkin' big (about 20" diameter) 190hp motor from U.S.
Hybrid and 370V of lithium cells from Gaia. It'll only fly for 15
minutes or so (they haven't flown it yet) but they're using it as a
technology test. In this case they just replaced the ICE with it, but
they had some interesting diagrams of making a motor integral with the
rotor-head. That raises all sorts of possibilities for simplification of
the drive system. No gearboxes, no sprague clutch. I actually think
that, combined with a small battery pack and a turbine/generator could
make a fantastic drivetrain for a helicopter. In general, helicopter
rotors want to run at a constant speed (around 500 rpm) and it's easy to
make a motor do that.
Flight Design showed a hybrid plane. A small(er) fuel-efficient ICE with
an electric motor to give it help on takeoff and climbs. And if the gas
motor dies, the electric will run for 10-15 minutes to help you get to a
Anyway, there was lots of exciting stuff happening. A full list of the
forums presented (no, I didn't get to them all) is at http://www.eaaapps.org/forumsearchresults.aspx?interest=46
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