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Electric aeroplanes...

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Electric aeroplanes...

Old 13th Feb 2018, 16:56
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Electric aeroplanes...

...anyone here flown one?
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Old 13th Feb 2018, 17:25
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Nope, but they were building a nice twin electric down the road near Royan. AirBus were funding, but pulled the plug (oh dear..not deliberate pun). Aimed at the training market with a 45 min endurance. Tandem seating in an all composite airframe. Good reports until the idea stopped. They had previously build a carbon Cri Cri with electric power that worked well, but it was just a stepping stone to the trainer.
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Old 13th Feb 2018, 17:29
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An electric powered CriCri was the coffin of a strongly reputed aviator and aircraft builder round here - I still miss him, and still distrust those smallish boxes storing huge amounts of energy; forever, probably. Oh yes, I know, of course, tomorrow's haircut will be for free... Everything will be better tomorow, yes, of course, but today and tomorrow I'll still fill two 20 litre jerrycans at the village petrol pump, to go flying.
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Old 13th Feb 2018, 19:14
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Have a hard enough time keeping my phone charged up, would have no chance with an electric airplane.
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Old 13th Feb 2018, 19:36
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Had a quick look on you tube, there are quite a few videos so I think that one day some of the smaller aircraft will be powered this way.
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Old 13th Feb 2018, 22:02
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I was asked to participate in design and approval of an electric conversion for a 172. Though it seems to have gone quiet, I learned quite a few peripheral things while I studied the concept. A big one was charging batteries. The problem is that either you have to swap heavy and expensive batteries to keep the plane in service, or it's down for hours charging after a half hour flight. Training aircraft don't generate revenue while they're parked charging. Swapping several hundred pound batteries will involve heavy lifting, and probably a dented airframe at some point. Putting the batteries in place of fuel tanks in a Cessna would be difficult to impossible. It's a logical place, but hardly an easy do. A whole bunch of screws for a 152/152/172 fuel tank cover, but not possible for a 180 and on.

The authorities were very eager to support the concept with regulatory flexibility. For example, at present, an "engine" must be type certified to be eligible for a certified aircraft. I can't certify a motor to the engine design standard, so I can't use a type certified powerplant in the installation. Previously a project stop, but the authority really wants to give on this point, among others.

It'll happen, and I look forward to it, but it's a ways off for commercial application just yet.
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Old 13th Feb 2018, 23:49
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A lot of "resistance against them!
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 00:05
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This link, and the links to other sources within that thread, may be of some interest...

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Old 14th Feb 2018, 07:19
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Thanks - still very little though. Have been chatting to Pipistrel, but they're coy about how many electric aircraft they've actually sold.

Fascinating stuff, and clearly the future, but still some (mainly weight of batteries) issues to solve.
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 08:17
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There is so much R&D going on in the car industry that the concept of batteries being big heavy boxes that have to be constantly lugged about to be recharged will be overturned. For example Toshiba have developed a new titanium niobium oxide battery that gives cars a 200 mile range and can be recharged in 6 minutes.
This will give rise to much more innovative installations such as batteries with unusual shapes to fit in dead spaces and the use of distributed battery installations (lots of smaller batteries spread about).
When the current push to electric cars was first mooted, my immediate thought was that "refuelling stops" would consist of pulling up and swapping battery packs (bit like the old coaching inns swapping horses!) ..........how wrong I was?
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 08:40
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You're right, but of course weight/bulk is still less important to cars than to aircraft.

I love the 'change horses' analogy, very apt!
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 11:01
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10 years ago, electric cars were a dream, now I drive one every day, it is fully charged every morning in my garage and drives better than any other car I have had. Prices of batteries are coming down exponentially, capacity to weight ratio goes up. It is the beginning of the end for internal combustion engines.
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Old 14th Feb 2018, 20:42
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I don't know about being worried by "smallish boxes storing huge amounts of energy" (presumably you're thinking of Lithium ion batteries?). Just try calculating the energy in two 20L jerrycans of petrol!
I used to fly a petrol powered DG808, 20L of petrol 4 inches from your right shoulder; now I fly an electric Antares with cables carrying 280V DC immediately behind your neck (but with the batteries in the wings). I feel safer in the Antares. In both these gliders the pilot wears a parachute.
The MCR01 I used to fly had 80L+ petrol immediately above your knees and no parachute system.
None of them feel safe to me.
So to return to the original question: no I haven't flown an electric airplane and yes I've flown several hundred hours in an electric powered sailplane but with a typical powered launch time of 6 minutes and an absolute engine run time of about 11 minutes my experience and range is very limited!
On the plus side the batteries are now over 10 years old and only 4 of the 72 cells are down to 97% of their original capacity. Their predicted life is about 20 years, probably just as well as their replacement cost is the same as buying a new Lycoming...
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Old 15th Feb 2018, 08:31
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Old 15th Feb 2018, 08:41
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Not an aeroplane.

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Old 15th Feb 2018, 14:35
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Short answer: no.

Long answer, actively studying them and hoping to first fly one this summer as part of working into a flight test programme.

So I'd class myself as knowledgeable, but for the moment, mostly second hand knowledge. Nonetheless, very happy to discuss what I do know, and my opinions on it.

In very short term - I'm a fan, I think that they are definitely part of the future, but probably not all of the future.

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Old 15th Feb 2018, 14:38
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And whilst you're online - thank you for the 'electric' tip. Really excited about it...
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Old 15th Feb 2018, 15:11
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I always love it when someone says 'NO one is ever...'

That someone can believe with absolute certainty that something will fail...

For the record, I believe this is all coming way faster than we realise - and that this is a good thing.

Slight thread drift, but I met one of the senior controllers at Belgocontrol last month. He confirmed that pilotless planes (and equally automated airspace/airfields) cannot come soon enough (from a flight safety, not job security, point of view).
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Old 15th Feb 2018, 17:29
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Ah for the days when electricity was becoming too cheap to meter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Too_cheap_to_meter

Predictions are hard, but the energy in a couple of jerry cans still takes a heck of a lot of battery power. Let alone A380s.

I think there are some great changes to come in light aircraft design in particular now that the electric engines are so small and light and the fuel (ie batteries) can be located wherever you want and won't change the C of G as the power is "consumed".

But sitting on the terrace at Atlanta airport a few weeks ago looking at the sheer number of flights taking off and the huge fuel compound, I didn't feel a need to rush to my broker and dump my Shell shares.

(old stock market adage: Never Sell Shell)
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Old 15th Feb 2018, 17:49
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Toshiba have developed a new titanium niobium oxide battery that gives cars a 200 mile range and can be recharged in 6 minutes.
I used to be able to work this out but what sort of power supply does one need to do that?
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