Flight Design Launches New Electric Aircraft – the CTLSi

Flight Design CTLS  Flight Design Launches New Electric Aircraft – the CTLSi(Image: CLI, cc-sa-3.0-Poland)

German plane manufacturer Flight Design has launched a new electric aircraft that builds on its well established CT (Composite Technology) series. The CTLSi, which comes with an additional $12,800 on the price tag due to a new Rotax 912iS engine, flew for the first time this week.

The announcement was made during a news conference at Sun ‘n Fun. The new engine is expected to deliver fuel savings of 21% at altitude and includes electric trim and a lithium ion battery.

Flight Design CTLS Lite  Flight Design Launches New Electric Aircraft – the CTLSi(Image: Image: Agentblank, cc-sa-3.0)

Flight Design also told AVweb that the company’s C4 project, launched about a year ago, was also moving forward. “Our next big decision is to nail down the avionics,” said marketing director John Doman. “We need to get everything to come together to meet our $250,000 target.”

(The aircraft used for illustration purposes in the lower image is the CTLS Like, introduced in 2010.)

NASA Puffin: Cool Concept, Shame it Never Flew

nasa puffin  NASA Puffin: Cool Concept, Shame it Never Flew(Image: NASA, public domain)

In early 2010 the online realm was buzzing with news of the Puffin, a NASA concept for a one-man personal aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL).  The brainchild of aerospace engineer Mark Moore, the electric aircraft was designed to stand 12 feet high and transport a lone pilot around 50 miles at speeds potentially reaching 150 mph.

NASA built a one-third scale proof-of-concept model in 2010 as a means of exploring new technologies and the transition from cruise to hover flight.  However, the Puffin was never intended to be a production vehicle and despite its potential application – military and/or civilian – and inarguable appeal, the concept shown above never actually flew.

Lockheed’s CALF Aircraft Powered Model Seen on Google Earth

Lockheed CALF  Lockheed’s CALF Aircraft Powered Model Seen on Google Earth(Image: Google Earth 2011)

Sitting in a junk filled corner of Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth, Texas, is a corroding aircraft that formed the basis of Lockheed’s Joint Strike Fighter design. At first glance, the plane resembles an F-35 Lightning II, but is actually a large scale powered model built by Lockheed to meet DARPA requirements for an Advanced Short Takeoff Vertical Landing (ASTOVL) and Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter (CALF) aircraft.

F 35 lift fan  Lockheed’s CALF Aircraft Powered Model Seen on Google Earth(Image: Duch.seb, cc-sa-3.0)

The stealthy canard design, developed in the early 1990s, adopted a revolutionary lift fan to achieve short takeoff and vertical landing, helping cement Lockheed’s success in the later Joint Strike Fighter programme against Boeing’s X-32. At this stage of the programme, renamed Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) by 1995, competing designs were also submitted by McDonnell Douglas and Boeing.

Lockheed CALF Fort Worth  Lockheed’s CALF Aircraft Powered Model Seen on Google Earth(Image: Google Earth 2011)

While the ASTOVL/CALF/JAST design was not a flyable aircraft, it was also not a traditional full size replica. As a large scale powered model, the stealthy demonstrator was used in a series of ground-based tests, many focusing on the lift fan system. Despite an obvious resemblance, the final X-35 and F-35 designs differ significantly from CALF. The powered model, similar in size to the F-16 alongside it, looks like a gutted shell in these recent Google Earth images. Nearby is a mock-up of the ill-fated A-12 Avenger II attack aircraft, designed for the Navy, and cancelled in 1993 amid ongoing legal difficulties.

A Brief Historical Introduction to the Flying Car

taylor aerocar  A Brief Historical Introduction to the Flying Car(Image: Ciar, cc-sa-3.0)

If you thought flying cars were the domain of sci fi movies or the reality-stretching James Bond films – you’d be surprised. The concept has been around since the early days of motoring, when intrepid aviators and auto pioneers envisioned a time when cars ruled the sky as they did the road. The fact that in 2011 we don’t have a mass produced flying car is testament to the ill-fated efforts of some of those early innovators – but there is hope, thanks to twenty first century advances.

Early History

curtiss autoplane  A Brief Historical Introduction to the Flying Car(Image: Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, via Ars Electronica, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

The first flying car – or roadable aircraft – came in 1917 via Wright Brothers rival Glenn Curtiss who – having been beaten into the air – designed the three-wing Curtiss Autoplane. The vehicle could only hop, but spawned an engineering race that, despite modern successes, has yet to come of age.

ford flivver  A Brief Historical Introduction to the Flying Car(Image: FlugKerl2, cc-sa-3.0)

In 1926, Henry Ford unveiled the Sky Flivver, which wasn’t really a flying car but captured the public imagination due to a clever campaign billing it “the Model T of the Air”. Ford hoped the Flivver would become the first mass produced and affordable plane that could be maintained just like a car. The idea was abandoned when it crashed during a distance-record attempt, killing the pilot.

waterman aerobile arrowbile1  A Brief Historical Introduction to the Flying Car(Image: San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives, public domain; inset: Mark Pellegrini, cc-sa-3.0)

Next came an effort by Waldo Waterman, designer of the first tailless monoplane (precursor to the flying wing) and modern tricycle landing gear. Waterman’s 1937 creation, the Arrowbile (or Aerobile – a development of his earlier design the Whatsit), was the first flying car to actually fly. With a wingspan of 38 feet, the Arrowbile could reach 112 mph in flight and 56 mph on the road.

Later Efforts

AVE Mizar  A Brief Historical Introduction to the Flying Car(Image: YouTube screenshot, Galpin Motors, California, and Bert Boeckmann)

Fresh from the success of World War Two, anything seemed possible in 1950s America. One of those things was the flying car, which came in increasingly modern designs and found ever more disasterous ways of crashing. One notable example, the AVE Mizar, mated the rear end of a Cessna Skymaster with a Ford Pinto. It disintegrated during testing, killing the pilot and designer Henry Smolinski.

taylor aerocar 2  A Brief Historical Introduction to the Flying Car(Image: Lotzman Katzman, cc-3.0)

Despite the setbacks and lack of commercial success, not all flying cars were a disaster. The Convair Model 118 flew successfully, while one 1949 Taylor Aerocar is still flying today. Ford tried again in the 1950s, concluding that flying cars could be made and manufactured economically. Markets identified were the military, emergency services and luxury travel – now served, at far greater cost according to Ford, by light helicopters.

(Image: creative location, cc-sa-3.0)

Determined to make his vision a reality, Ford sounded out the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Their main concerns were lack of adequate air traffic control to handle hundreds of airborne vehicles, and problems such as intoxicated pilots and flying without a license. The international community would also have to agree on universal standards, the translation of air miles to nautical miles, and so on.

terrafuga transition  A Brief Historical Introduction to the Flying Car(Image: Observe the Banana, cc-nc-3.0)

Above all, the FAA feared the impact of flying cars on urban areas, as shoddily built machines and drunk pilots crashed into houses and shops, wrecking property and killing pedestrians.

The Twenty First Century Flying Car

Fortunately for the FAA, engineers never got that far, but modern flying car concepts like the Terrafugia Transition (above) are showing remarkable promise – stay tuned for Part Two.

10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean

sunseeker II  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Ccoonnrraadd, cc-sa-3.0)

Electric planes and other green aircraft have become more prevalent in recent times, with the ongoing success of Solar Impulse and Electra One winning the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize at Oshkosh.  But this environmentally friendly form of aviation has a long pedigree reaching back more than a century, beginning with La France airship in 1883 and extending through the twentieth century with projects like the Gossamer Penguin.  Here are 10 modern electric aircraft that are blazing that trail into the twenty first century.

Boeing-FCD Project

boeing fuel cell demonstrator  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Adambro, cc-sa-3.0)

Developed by the shadowy Phantom Works, the Boeing-FCD (Fuel Cell Demonstrator) Project is a technology demonstrator aiming to develop a fuel cell powered light research aircraft.  The electric plane utilizes a Diamond HK-36 Super Dimona motor glider engine and first flew in February 2008.  Boeing’s partners in FCD Project include UK and Spanish companies.

SpySpark

spyspark  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Dumbo, cc-sa-3.0)

A joint project between DigiSky and Polytechnic University of Berlin, SpySpark is a twin-seat Pioneer Alpi 300 with a 75 kW brushless electric motor powered by lithium polymer batteries.  On June 12, 2009, SpySpark flew into the record books, becoming the fastest manned electric aircraft after reaching speeds of 155 mph.

Colomban Cri-Cri

colomban cri cri  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Guillaume Paumier, cc-3.0)

The Colomban Cri-Cri (designed in the 1970s) is the smallest twin-engined manned aircraft in the world, but this 2010 overhaul by the European aerospace company (EADS) saw the ultralight vintage plane reborn with four electric engines.  Powered by lithium batteries, the Cri-Cri (short for cricket) can fly for 30 minutes at 60 kn or 15 minutes of aerobatics with a climb rate of 1,000 feet per minute.  This low cost design will support EADS research into hybrid propulsion for helicopters.

ElectraFlyer

electra flyer  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Armchair Aviator, cc-3.0)

Equipped with a 5.6 kW lithium-ion polymer battery powering an electric motor, the Electraflyer can remain aloft for between one and two hours.  Charging takes around five hours with a standard 120 volt outlet but can be reduced to two hours using 240 volts.  Accessories even include a ballistic parachute, and the total weight comes in at just 249 pounds.

Sonex Aircraft

sonex xenos  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: TimothyMN, cc-3.0)

In 2007 Sonex Aircraft announced a series of alternative power initiatives including the development of an electric aircraft.  The Waiex motor glider first flew in 2010, powered by a 54 kW brushless DC electric motor run off 14.5 kW-hour lithium polymer batteries.  The aircraft can fly for one hour at low speed and manage 15 minutes of aerobatics.  The electric aircraft pictured above is the Sonex Xenos, a development of the Waiex.

Yuneec International E430

Yuneec International E430  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Caleb Howell (see CalebandBrittany.com), cc-nc-sa-3.0)

This twin-seat Chinese V tailed aircraft, constructed from composite materials with high-aspect ratio wing, was introduced in 2009 as a homebuilt aircraft for the U.S. market.  The Yuneec International E430 runs on battery packs which – the company claims – have a lifespan of 1,500 hours at a cost of $7,000 each.  Operating three to five battery packs gives the electric aircraft around two hours flight time, while the production plane is expected to cost $89,000.

Flightstar e-Spyder

Flightstar e Spyder  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: FlugKerl2, cc-sa-3.0)

Developed by Flightstar Sportplanes in cooperation with Yuneec, the Flightstar e-Spyder is an electric version of the earlier Spyder ultralight.  Powered by a 20 kW electric motor and two 28 lb lithium-polymer battery packs, the aircraft has a 40 minute endurance.  First exhibited at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2009, the Flightstar e-Spyder homebuilt aircraft is set to cost $25,000.

Lange Antares 20E

lange antares 20e  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Stahlkocker, cc-sa-3.0)

This self-launching motor glider is powered by a 42 kW electric motor and lithium-ion batteries.  Featuring a twin-blade fixed pitch propeller, the Lange Antares 20E can climb to almost 10,000 feet and can function as a conventional glider after launch.  Fifty had been produced as of January 2010.

PC-Aero Elektra One

pc aero elektra one  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: FlugKerl2, cc-sa-3.0)

This single-seat composite aircraft – a development of a commercial electric aircraft design by PC-Aero – made its maiden flight in early 2011.  Powered by a 16 kW electric motor, the Elektra One has a top speed of 100 mph and an endurance of three hours.  The German plane won the coveted Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize at EAA AirVenture (Oshkosh) 2011 – read more.

Sunseeker II (Top Image)

Originally built in 2002, the Sunseeker II was an updated of an earlier solar powered plane that first flew in the 1990s.  Equipped with a more powerful motor and larger wing, it was the only manned solar powered aircraft in flying condition as of 2008, and in 2009 became the first solar powered plane to cross the Alps.  The event marked 99 years since the first airborne crossing of the Alps in 1910.

Elektra One Wins Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize at Oshkosh

elektra one  Elektra One Wins Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize at Oshkosh(Image: Shahn Sederberg)

The Elektra One performed a demoflight during EAA AirVenture 2011 in Oshkosh on Saturday, July 30, demonstrating the electric aircraft’s high – and completely silent – performance. The demonstration helped German company PC-Aero, which developed the plane, cement its bid for the coveted Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize.

elektra one 2  Elektra One Wins Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize at Oshkosh(Image: Jean-Marie Urlacher/Info-Pilot, via PC-Aero)

Designed by Calin Gologan and with a range of 500 km, the Elektra One is a single-seat electric aircraft capable of flying with batteries for up to four hours. The plane works in conjunction with a Solar Hangar (known as SunAirport), sponsored by SolarWorld, one of the world’s largest solar panel companies.

elektra one 3  Elektra One Wins Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize at Oshkosh(Image: Michael Mularski, SolarWorld)

Practically silent, Elektra One uses only 6 kW per hour and combines zero emissions with low operating costs. Treehugger reported in March that the company hoped to commercialise its technology: “The complete system (Aircraft + Solar-Hangar) will come on the market for less than 100.000 EUR. The operation cost per hour is less than 35 EUR or 0.2 EUR/km.”

(All images reproduced courtesy of PC-Aero)

What Became of the EasyJet EcoJet?

(Image: EasyJet)

In June 2007 EasyJet unveiled a conceptual design for an environmentally friendly short haul airliner called the EcoJet, set to make its maiden flight in 2015.  The passenger aircraft was designed to compete with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family of jets.  But nothing more was heard of the project after its launch, suggesting the EcoJet might have been a way of pressuring the industry giants into developing cleaner means of air travel.

(Image: NASA, public domain)

Adopting carbon fibre composite materials, EcoJet’s design made use of propfan engines (like the NASA development above) and was expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 75% and noise by 25%.  It will be interesting to see if this aircraft concept re-emerges in the future.  Does anyone have any information?

The Sky’s the Limit: FlyNano Launches Eco-Friendly Personal Sea Plane

flynano sea plane  The Sky’s the Limit: FlyNano Launches Eco-Friendly Personal Sea Plane(All images via FlyNano)

The Coolist recently featured these super sleek sea planes designed for anyone who wants to lift off cleanly from water to sky for a relatively modest $36,000. The low-cost craft will feature sea-friendly hull, conjoined wings and small propeller-powered engine above the cockpit. Manufactured by FlyNano, the craft come in three different models and have a maximum ceiling of two miles.

flynano plane  The Sky’s the Limit: FlyNano Launches Eco-Friendly Personal Sea Plane

Two basic versions are available with either electric motor or combustion engine, along with a souped-up model with increased range, speed and ceiling. The electric FlyNano E200 can cruise quietly at around 90 mph with a range of 25 miles per charge. While the combustion variant can manage an extra 18 miles, the environmental and economic benefits of the E200 make it Storm Climb’s model of choice.

flynano g 240  The Sky’s the Limit: FlyNano Launches Eco-Friendly Personal Sea Plane

For a few (thousand) dollars more ($39,400), the high performance FlyNano R300 model will take you higher and faster, but in The Coolist’s words: “We would gladly sacrifice a few miles an hour just to be able to try one of these machines”. Storm Climb seconds this, and echoes the call to FlyNano that there are eager test pilots willing to risk it all for the chance to soar two miles high on a jet ski.

flynano e200 g240 r 300  The Sky’s the Limit: FlyNano Launches Eco-Friendly Personal Sea Plane

FlyNano is a European-based company. Their E200, G240 and R260/300 series all come in nicely coded colours, from green (enviro) to yellow (gas) and red (fast). The sea planes were launched at Aero 2011 with deliveries set to begin this summer. Transport and storage trailers are available from $7,900. If you’ve ordered one, be sure to let us know how it goes!

Solar Impulse Prepares for First International Flight Next Month

solar impulse aircraft  Solar Impulse Prepares for First International Flight Next Month(Image: Matth1, cc-sa-3.0)

After a successful 24 hour flight in 2010, a new breed of intrepid aviation pioneer is planning to take Solar Impulse on its first international flight next month, as a prelude to eventually circumnavigating the globe. And while last year’s success proved the craft could store enough energy from the sun during the day to stay aloft at night, crossing borders presents its own set of challenges.

solar impulse wing  Solar Impulse Prepares for First International Flight Next Month(Image: Matth1, cc-sa-3.0)

For one, the Solar Impulse team will have to negotiate international air traffic networks, a complex task even before the added bureaucracy of several national governments giving their consent is factored in. All being well, the plane will leave Brussels to attend the 49th Paris Air Show in June.

solar impulse 2  Solar Impulse Prepares for First International Flight Next Month(Image: Matth1, cc-sa-3.0)

Solar Impulse made its maiden flight in 2009. The solar powered plane, which has the wingspan of a Boeing 777, is expected to ultimately circumnavigate the globe in around 20 – 25 days. The team is led by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, who co-piloted the first round-the-world balloon flight in 1999 with Brian Jones.