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Electric Airplane Developments

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Electric Airplane Developments

Old 31st Oct 2022, 01:07
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Pilot Dar.
Hear, hear.
I'm pretty certain there's a thread in JB for climate discussions.
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Old 31st Oct 2022, 02:10
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Originally Posted by Pilot DAR View Post
... Is sort of thread drift. But, in the context of discussion of electric airplanes, and the hope that they will have a small effect in reducing climate change, a little discussion on the drift....

I have, since 2007, been the person who issues the STC approvals the science installations on "Polar 5 & 6"

https://www.awi.de/en/expedition/air...polar-5-6.html

These airplanes are used, in part, to conduct exactly the polar research which provides the evidence of global temperature rising. What's the "proof"? Well, as you can read (paragraph 4) the towed survey bird (a part of the approvals I have issued) measures sea ice thickness. As the earth warms, the oceans warm. As the oceans warm, there is less sea ice. I have had to do additional approvals since 2007, to enable the crews to fly farther and farther to simply get to the ice, to measure its thickness, 'cause it's receding (melting) due to global warming. Glaciers I know are receding, the climate is changing. Whether mankind is the prime cause of global warming is open for discussion, but we certainly don't seem to be helping the situation much! So, electric airplanes, as developed over a long period, will play a small, very small, role in reducing emissions. And, electric airplanes will demonstrate to a skeptical public that aviation is in the game to do our part, as opposed to thumbing our nose at the problem.

Sure, electric planes have limited utility now, but it's not no utility, and what's there is needed. I have a personal interest in this, as I'm also a participant in the certification of Harbour Air's electric DHC-2 Beaver. As electric planes evolve, so will the improvements in batteries. So how about we keep the focus of this thread on being enthusiastic about electric airplane accomplishments....
Pilot Dar, from your thread starter post #1 you introduced the ‘climate’ discussion.

“…We GA pilots need to embrace this technology as much as we can, it will become a part of what keeps general aviation alive!…”

As well, there are other posts in this thread commenting on the ‘climate’ connection to electric aircraft development.


As far as I’m aware electric aircraft at this time in their development offer no improvement to the current fleet of aircraft so will not be ‘saving’ anything. I do though look forward to the future possibility’s.

Looking back about 100 years in the history of battery powered transport I note that Henry Ford were an enthusiastic supporter of electric cars though were never able to get a viable vehicle. Go back in history a bit further and you see Henry Ford made the first viable ‘everymans’ car about 100 years after the first engine powered vehicle were driven down the road. One needs to be mindful that things take time so shouldn’t run around shooting all the horses just yet.

At any rate. Myself, as a current owner of a fuel powered aircraft do not appreciate being told I’m a villain because I damage the ‘climate’. If one wish’s to attack fuel powered aircraft because of ‘climate’ then I think it is entirely fair to ask the question of where’s the proof of claim…



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Old 31st Oct 2022, 02:21
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Originally Posted by TURIN View Post
Pilot Dar.
Hear, hear.
I'm pretty certain there's a thread in JB for climate discussions.
Since I officially joined PPRuNe in 2007 I have been involved in multiple climate related threads.

What I’ve found is many posters unfortunately accept the climate hysteria on what they are told in the media or via the ‘climate industry’. When you get them to look at the subject more closely they soon enough find they have no credible evidence to back up the ‘climate’ claims.



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Old 31st Oct 2022, 03:38
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I think it is entirely fair to ask the question of where’s the proof of claim…
It is fair, but not in this topic.

I also own an Avgas burning airplane. I still fly it, but no longer on "bimbles" as I did for decades, I now fly with purpose, or not at all - my choice.

As well, there are other posts in this thread commenting on the ‘climate’ connection to electric aircraft development.
Understandable..... electric airplanes, are a very small step forward in possibly reducing the effects on our climate of burning gasoline. But, the topic of this thread is electric airplanes. Fossil fuel powered aircraft, and further discussion of climate change are outside the scope of the topic here.




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Old 31st Oct 2022, 04:27
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Climate for other threads - moving on…


I’m wondering where the power to charge electric aircraft will come from ?

As the California experience has recently proven, there is not enough power to run the state, let alone charge electric cars. How will adding the high power requirements of electric aircraft recharging be met ?

There are ball park figures that say to fast charge a Tesla is the equivalent of adding the power draw of two average western homes to the power system. What will a fleet of electric aircraft draw from the power grid ? Who will pay for the extra power ‘stations’ and grid requirements of them electric aircraft ?
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Old 31st Oct 2022, 09:54
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Originally Posted by Flying Binghi View Post
Climate for other threads - moving on…
I’m wondering where the power to charge electric aircraft will come from ?
Are you implying that it is impossible to generate more power? There are plenty of low CO2 ways of generating more power. The power generated is sold for a profit so consumers will pay for any new power stations required.
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Old 31st Oct 2022, 10:58
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I'm not particularly interested in getting into pointless debates with climate science deniers any more. The evidence is clear, very widely available, and the ambiguity is all in the detail, not the big picture. Look at NASA, IPCC, a bunch of textbooks that are readily available, from the (actually very good)
Ladybird book of climate change Ladybird book of climate change
, up to multiple volumes that require multiple degrees to properly understand.

However there are aspects of the public picture that are less accurate, particularly with regard to aviation. So here's a few points about why this is often misunderstood, or just why we need to worry.

Aviation is presently responsible for between 2 and 3% of global CO2 emissions. That's reasonably trivial. We're also as an industry reducing our per passenger mile emissions by about 2% per year, through a combination of technological and efficiency improvements. So that makes it seem even more trivial. Now to the bad news.

Aviation is (a) totally reliant at the moment on liquid hydrocarbon fuels, (b) growing globally about 5% per year, (c) emitting other things, not just CO2. In particular the latest science says that contrails are contributing to radiative forcing: the physical mechanism behind global warming, to a factor of about double what our CO2 emissions are doing.

Now, electric flight is one way in which we can tackle both CO2 and non-CO2 emissions, and if we can crack it the reliance upon dwindling supplies of fossil fuels. Unfortunately it also is spectacularly inefficient and difficult to achieve, as evidenced by the fact that in 119 years of powered flight, we so far have one (count them) certified electric aircraft in the world - capable of about an hour full to flat, and a payload of one pilot and one passenger. This suggests that pursuing this technology may be totally pointless.

Except it isn't, for a bunch of reasons. A lot of the potential future technologies needed involve electric propulsion, even if not the current battery-inverter-motor-thrust combo. There's hybrid combinations, fuel cell technologies (hydrogen's the favourite, but I've been to enough meetings discussing ammonia that may be part of our future). So the present work on electric flight is, in my opinion, an absolutely essential step towards eventual technologies that *will* have a significant impact on allowing aviation to continue to grow as an industry, whilst reducing both our CO2 and non CO2 emissions.

But, none of this actually says that the present generation of electric aircraft are useful. They may find some tiny, economically and environmentally insignificant niches. But what they will do is teach us a whole bunch of lessons we need to genuinely move forward and start - very necessarily - reducing our emissions.

There are other technologies that might do the same job. eFuels - using renewable energy to extract CO2 from the atmosphere and reconstitute it into synthetic jet fuel. Hydrogen combustion. (Oh, by the way we're also very reliant here on a bunch of work from the chemical engineering industries also - whether that's to produce green hydrogen, green ammonia, or sustainable synthetic jet fuel. But they are working very hard on that.) But we can't afford against the urgency of climate change to pick winners - we need to pursue everything right now, and let natural selection determine the technological winners.

If we don't, denying climate science won't be an option - we will see externally imposed demand control that will decimate our industry.

G

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Old 31st Oct 2022, 11:12
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Originally Posted by Flying Binghi View Post
Climate for other threads - moving on…


I’m wondering where the power to charge electric aircraft will come from ?

As the California experience has recently proven, there is not enough power to run the state, let alone charge electric cars. How will adding the high power requirements of electric aircraft recharging be met ?

There are ball park figures that say to fast charge a Tesla is the equivalent of adding the power draw of two average western homes to the power system. What will a fleet of electric aircraft draw from the power grid ? Who will pay for the extra power ‘stations’ and grid requirements of them electric aircraft ?
The serious researchers in this space are also wondering this, and extremely concerned.

Actually it's broader than that. We need more electrical power to power all the ground services - transport, A/C, tugs, etc. If we go to electric aircraft we need a massive new power generation and distribution infrastructure that's not even in serious planning at the moment (ditto electric cars, trucks, etc.). If we go to hydrogen, ammonia, etc. all that needs distribution and storage as well.

Add in training countless thousands of people to design, build and manage all of this.

And yet we can't do a lot of that yet, until we actually know what the winning technologies will be.

All really rather difficult isn't it!

G
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Old 31st Oct 2022, 14:33
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It feels way too early to commit to anything new and different. A much better way is to improve existing technologies like ultra-high bypass turbofans that can be modified for SAF and maybe liquid hydrogen as well.
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Old 31st Oct 2022, 19:07
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Too early to commit, probably. Certainly on a wide scale.

Too early to start developing and understanding what we can do - definitely not.

However LH and SAF I'd put reasonably down the list of best solutions. SAF (by which we mean biokerosene) is very feedstock limited as well as tending only to give about 60% reduction in overall footprint - whilst the research into non-CO2 emissions is very very preliminary. LH looks lovely in principle, until you consider the mass and energy cost of all the cooling equipment - for my money gaseous hydrogen has much better short to medium term prospects.

And as this is the Private Flying page, we do need to consider what might actually work in lighter aeroplanes....

G
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Old 31st Oct 2022, 20:05
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I think battery powered electric propulsion is the future for light aircraft. Most private flights are an hour bimble that is within reach of current battery technology. It is quieter which matters more than ever with the BANANA's trying to shut down so many GA airfields and it is the definition of green which gives us a way to push back at the GA haters, particularly with SEP's now mostly burning leaded fuel. The Billions being spent on car battery technology is rapidly driving battery prices down and battery energy density up.

I think over the next 10 years we will see electric light aircraft dominate flight training and new homebuilt aircraft which have much lower regulator barriers to entry. The current cost to overhaul a C 172 engine is approaching 40 K US including the re and re. The game changer will be affordable STC conversions to the current common GA types.
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Old 31st Oct 2022, 20:40
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Originally Posted by Pilot DAR View Post
...So how about we keep the focus of this thread on being enthusiastic about electric airplane accomplishments....
Pilot DAR although I realise PPRuNe isn't exactly a peer-reviewed journal I hope that those with views that may not be quite so 'enthusiastic' are not discouraged from presenting them here?

While I'm inclined to agree that the climate debate is better dealt with elsewhere, and this thread should focus more on the 'planes and the tech, I also consider it's healthy to have informed debate, whether enthusiastic or not.

For the record I have a generally positive view about electric transportation, having been closely involved with it for several decades, but am also very aware of the present limitations - and just how emerging tech tends to, well, emerge! To my mind we've still a way to go and I expect there will be positives and negatives along the way that deserve discussion in order that we are better educated...

FP.

Last edited by First_Principal; 31st Oct 2022 at 21:14. Reason: Clarification/grammar
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Old 31st Oct 2022, 22:31
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Thankyou Genghis.
The voice of reason. 👍
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Old 31st Oct 2022, 23:57
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The voice of reason.
Indeed. As seen before, repeatedly.
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Old 1st Nov 2022, 01:19
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Originally Posted by Jan Olieslagers View Post
Indeed. As seen before, repeatedly.
Thanks, I try.

This may relate to my surprisingly being a PPRuNe moderator again for the first time in ten years! (Reasons for fall and rise are known to those who need to, but gratified to be back.)

G
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Old 1st Nov 2022, 01:55
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Originally Posted by Romeo Tango View Post
Are you implying that it is impossible to generate more power? There are plenty of low CO2 ways of generating more power. The power generated is sold for a profit so consumers will pay for any new power stations required.
Pilot DAR politely asked that I avoid mention of ‘climate’ related issues. Seems I am unable to contribute to the thread.
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Old 1st Nov 2022, 21:38
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Originally Posted by Flying Binghi View Post
Pilot DAR politely asked that I avoid mention of ‘climate’ related issues. Seems I am unable to contribute to the thread.
There are other than climate issues to discuss and contribute on here; for instance the amount of 'wasted' energy that falls on the earth from the sun each day, which in my part of the world is ~1100W/m2 on a sunny day.

Even at the present efficiency of solar panels (say 17-19%) If just a small amount of this energy were harnessed it could power a lot of planes trains and automobiles, and it can be sourced close to where it's required. As with battery tech, when panel efficiency improves over time so will the ability to provide for more/fast/longer range transport. Given in my lifetime I've seen average panels rise from ~5% to what they are now I'm not as concerned about how to power these things as some people - I reckon that as the demand rises so will the supply.

Genghis the Engineer (that was interesting, several 'misspellings' of your handle came up when using the '@' reference) good on you for sticking around and spending your time in the wilderness as it were. If being a moderator is any reward (I'm well aware of the work it can involve) I expect we're all happy the dust and feathers have settled, congrats...

FP.
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