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Electric Airplane Developments

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Electric Airplane Developments

Old 22nd Apr 2022, 10:59
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Electric Airplane Developments

I see that another new electric airplane has flown! The eKUB Microlight took flight the other day. This is wonderful news, as this technology is going to form the basis for at least some general aviation in the future. It's a steep hill to climb, not only for the development itself, but for the path to certification as well. We GA pilots need to embrace this technology as much as we can, it will become a part of what keeps general aviation alive!
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Old 22nd Apr 2022, 12:24
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I spoke to a chap the other day who instructs on a Velis (?) the electric cousin of the Virus SW. They even let students solo on the electric thingy. Range is limited to around 200 kilometers with careful treatment but only half of it is used. Good for pattern work and a 50 NM XC will work too. But you need to have industrial grade power connectors to charge it via some clumsy box. Not bad but not there yet.
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Old 22nd Apr 2022, 14:26
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I heard that Pipistrel has been bought (or will be) by Textron, so perhaps that will provide a boost to the electric aircraft business (https://www.pipistrel-aircraft.com/151027-2/).
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Old 22nd Apr 2022, 17:10
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Very nice aircraft, elegant and with some spacious cockpit. Must make for some perfect personal airplane. I would still prefer the Rotax version at this time.
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Old 23rd Apr 2022, 07:19
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Until they have at least 4 to 5 hours endurance, or 5 to 10 minute charging at all the fields we use, they just won't work for our operation. We don't let students airborne with less than half tanks.
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Old 23rd Apr 2022, 07:32
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They switch to combustion versions for everything outside the pattern. In the pattern students might fly solo on electric power.
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Old 24th Apr 2022, 06:25
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Then the runway gets blocked by the aircraft in front and they have to divert. We do the same as MrAverage, min 2 hours endurance at planned end of flight for solo students.

It'll come and all power to the efforts of people like Deepak.

TOO
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Old 24th Apr 2022, 06:50
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But you need to have industrial grade power connectors to charge it via some clumsy box. Not bad but not there yet.
So impractical for many GA users, especially at the lighter end. I'll be waiting for the electric version of the gerrycan
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Old 24th Apr 2022, 08:02
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Or something like this:
https://www.studyfinds.org/power-bea...gy-from-space/
Microwaves to transfer electric energy. It can even be done from space so no need for a battery and unlimited range.
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Old 24th Apr 2022, 10:01
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Originally Posted by Less Hair View Post
Or something like this:
https://www.studyfinds.org/power-bea...gy-from-space/
Microwaves to transfer electric energy. It can even be done from space so no need for a battery and unlimited range.
Until someone does Ctrl-Alt-Del by mistake.

CG
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Old 24th Apr 2022, 18:51
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Electric will solve so many problems. Installing charging points is cheap and requires little complication and regulation. Petrol/Jet A! installations are complicated, costly and subject to a lot of expensive regulation. Electric charging allows several charging points to be installed for plug in and walk away, at every parking stand if you wish. Hydrocarbon fuels stations are limiting so often means time consuming ques and aircraft repositioning otherwise or long waits for the bowser.


Electric engines give a high torque which is perfect for propellers and are low in maintenance. Fuel is the largest part of the current operating cost and comes with a high weight penalty. Batteries will come with low cost, enormous benefits both in mass and endurance. The technology is rapidly developing because its in the interest of all vehicles and machinery and is spurred on by the worldwide environment concerns. Shouldn't be too long before battery power is the norm for our aeroplanes.
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Old 24th Apr 2022, 19:45
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I have to totally disagree. Battery aircraft are clearly not the way to go. Except for small ones. Possibly liquid hydrogen can do the trick for airliners - that is if all the energy needed can be made "green". Otherwise aviation will be more like the final thing to move away from kerosene because it is low weight given the energy stored, liquid and won't be carried as empty battery dead weight on every single touchdown.
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Old 24th Apr 2022, 20:30
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I had previously been hire to work on certification of an electric conversion for a 172. We got a long way down the path, but the ultimate problem was going to be down time for charging. There are commercial realities of using an airplane for 45 minutes, and then having it off line for several hours to charge. For a private airplane, where the owner wants to fly 45 minutes a day, it would have been perfect - but that's a lesser market right now.

The electric conversion project I'm currently involved in recognizes this operational reality, and is planning to account for it - for now - while they wait improving battery technology. It'll come, and some very forward thinking aviation entrepreneurs are working to create a market. There are other certification [regulatory] adjustments to be made, though I find that the regulators are very receptive.
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Old 24th Apr 2022, 21:28
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Last summer, I was playing Frisbee at a sports field that's adjacent to Paine Field (Everett) when I noticed an unusual aircraft flying overhead - basically looked like a powered sailplane, but no discernable engine noise, just a drone like hum. It circled around the area for perhaps half an hour before leaving. Reasonable sure it was an electric aircraft - probably doing some testing. Staying close to the airport meant that if something went wrong it could easily glide in for a dead stick at the airport.

Sort of an intriguing idea - an electric sailplane that could takeoff on it's own power, find a good area of thermals and shutdown the electric motor and glide for a while, then return to the airport using the electric motor if necessary to extend the range.
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Old 24th Apr 2022, 21:31
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Battery chemistry/density and charging technology hasn’t been arbitrarily fixed on some day two years ago. As ever we are too impatient for progress to suddenly leap to our rescue instead of carefully monitoring and supporting developments that will take years to achieve.
At some stage in the future - lead by automotive research - you will get the range and quick recharge to replace the C150 etc. that will satisfy most missions.

No-good predicting a date - it’s in the future but will get here eventually….
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Old 24th Apr 2022, 21:42
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Originally Posted by tdracer View Post
Sort of an intriguing idea - an electric sailplane that could takeoff on it's own power, find a good area of thermals and shutdown the electric motor and glide for a while, then return to the airport using the electric motor if necessary to extend the range.
More than an intriguing idea - they have been been manufactured for many years. Try a search for "Antares 20E" (first flight 2003) and "Pipistrel Taurus" which are both self launching. There are other electric "sustainers" such as "FES" that do not have the power to self launch but can get off the ground with a low cost auto tow and then climb on the sustainer.
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Old 24th Apr 2022, 22:16
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Another facility offered by batteries is to be exchanged, taking minutes, by the pilot. If so it won't be necessary to wait whilst the batteries are recharged.
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Old 25th Apr 2022, 00:13
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It'll be a while before changing batteries is practical, let alone a pilot task. Handling a few hundred pounds of batteries around an airplane will require a special lift machine, which sure, is doable, and then immense care not to dent the plane with it. If the replaceable battery pack is inside the cabin, it is a handling problem, and its being properly restrained is critical. If a belly pod, assuring it's correctly attached will be important. If in the wings, where the fuel was, not easy to change. Cessna 150/152/170 have dozens of screws, all the larger Cessnas have inaccessible tank areas from the perspective of installing batteries. This was the main stumbling block for the electric 172 project I was working on for a while - batteries are there to stay from a day to day operations perspective.

Of course, new fuselage designs will get around this, but in most cases, that will mean a new plane. New planes are costly, for a private market who sometimes struggle with the cost of the legacy types.
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Old 25th Apr 2022, 07:50
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The Pipistrel Alpha Electro was designed to have its batteries replaced between flights, but I understand that the stumbling block is that this proces is seen as a maintenance task.
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Old 25th Apr 2022, 09:49
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Batteries are rapidly getting smaller and the capacity increasing. Innovation is reducing the demands on the battery and together all this will increase the endurance. This is no different with electric cars and so that industry will innovate. It has the resources to do so.

The old wisdom of 'don't repair old clothes with new cloth' is true. Retro fits rarely work: beset with problems and expensive. It is a whole package that will bring about change.
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