Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Light-Sport Chronicles: Prop-Pourri
An “All Things Considered” approach to aviation innovation
Other e-birds of note:
• Sunseeker Duo, Eric Raymond's side-by-side two-seat e-sailplane, should make news this year with long flights—using only solar power!
• Switzerland's super-light carbon- fiber Archaeopteryx foot-launch, 18-mph-stall, 28-1 glide ratio sailplane now has electric propulsion.
• The EADS/Airbus E-Fan should fly this year, sporting two ducted fan 30 kW motors and 250-volt powerpacks. It's aimed at the flight-training market, but EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, which includes Airbus and Eurocopter) has a bigger dream: e-airliners.
• Several electric-powered sailplanes are in production. Pipistrel's Taurus Electro G2, the Antares 20E, Randall Fishman's ultralight ElectraFlyer ULS and PC-Aero's Elektra One are flying. Two- and six-seat Elektra models are in the works.
• Many companies are developing electric aircraft in full view—or quietly in the shadows. Expect exciting introductions this year.
Futures Near And Far
Elon Musk, the big thinker of boundless imagination, sees a supersonic vertical- takeoff/landing electric-powered jet airliner in the medium future. He calls it the "ultimate form of transport" and says he'd develop it himself—if he wasn't already busy running electric car company Tesla Motors and SpaceX, and planning a private mission to Mars.
On the near horizon, the LSA phenomenon continues apace with these developments, products and events:
• Recent battery research has advanced the energy storage of current top-performing lithium batteries by five times! Not in production yet, but do the math: If we can fly two people now for even an hour, a 5X battery pack will make electric flight feasible and common.
• After its 25th Anniversary Jubilee Edition CTLS sold out, Flight Design doubles down on the success with the Americas Edition CTLSi. The "i" model comes with the Rotax 912iS fuel-injected engine, dual Dynon 10-inch SkyView EFIS displays, Garmin 796 touchscreen MFD (multi-function display), Dynon autopilot, Twin Bose A-20 AN headsets, BRS 1350 high-speed airframe parachute system and optional ADS-B free weather and traffic. Talk about being "fully loaded."
Here's a shout-out to Pilot Workshops, which posts really helpful "Pilot's Tip of the Week" audio programs online—and they're free. Past tips include wake turbulence and rudder Skills. The company markets audio and video pilot proficiency programs. www.pilotworkshop.com.
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