There were few spectacular announcements of radical new aircraft at this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh show, held July 27 through August 3, but the popular event was well attended, the crowds enjoyed the first-ever appearance of a U.S. military jet aerobatic team–the Air Force Thunderbirds–and there were plenty of exciting attractions.
Spain’s Air Traffic Laboratory for Advanced Systems (Atlas) experimental test center on August 20 hosted the first flight of a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) beyond visual line of sight since new rules governing RPAS entered force in that country.
Solar-powered aircraft could offer a low-cost way to train future pilots, if the partners developing the Sun Flyer succeed in their ambitious plans. A technology demonstrator–a PC-Aero Elektra One–for the Sun Flyer solar-powered airplane made its first flight earlier this month in Munich, Germany, and can be seen at EAA AirVenture 2014 at the Redbird Flight Simulations display (Booth 320). While the Elektra One technology demonstrator didn’t fly with solar panels, the panels will be installed on the Elektra that is on display at AirVenture.
EADS has an ongoing partnership with Siemens and Diamond Aircraft on serial hybrid propulsion. The three companies announced the first flight, in June near Vienna, Austria, of a DA36 E-Star 2 motorglider, the propeller of which was driven by an electric motor. The batteries were recharged in-flight via a small Wankel-type engine.
Separately, the European group is already developing the E-Fan, an electric two-seater for pilot training.
GreenWing International is preparing to market the eSpyder electric airplane in the U.S., first as an amateur-built kit then as a factory-built light sport aircraft (LSA). U.S. production of the eSpyder is expected to begin later this year. The eSpyder was certified in Germany in February and is based on the Flightstar Spyder ultralight airframe.
EADS is demonstrating here at Le Bourget a number of electric- and hybrid-propulsion technologies developed under its commitment to reduce aircraft CO2 emissions. In cooperation with Royan Aero Composites, EADS has developed and built the E-Fan fully electric general-aviation training aircraft and, separately, has engineered with Diamond Aircraft and Siemens the Diamond Aircraft DA36 E-Star 2 hybrid-electric motor-glider. EADS also cooperated with Rolls-Royce on the future distributed-propulsion system concept, and all three projects are dubbed “E-aircraft.”
A decisive milestone was reached yesterday as the solar-charged, electric-powered Solar Impulse successfully completed the second-to-last leg of its Across America mission by landing at Washington Dulles International Airport–locally it was Sunday, June 16 at 12:15 a.m.–stimulating renewed enthusiasm for discovery and innovation.
The massive, gangly Solar Impulse landed at 12:30 a.m. in Phoenix on Saturday, having completed the first leg of the solar-powered airplane’s Across America mission. The flight departed Moffett Airfield in Mountain View, Calif. on Friday at 6:12 a.m. PDT and landed at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Saturday at 12:30 a.m. MST.
The flight took 18 hours and 18 minutes, all powered by 12,000 solar cells mounted in the wings, driving four 10-hp electric motors and propellers. To fly at night, energy is stored in 881 pounds of lithium-ion batteries.
The Solar Impulse project recently received a burst of sunshine in the form of financial support from a commercial insurance firm, bolstering the team’s plans to complete the world’s first global circumnavigation by a piloted, solar-powered aircraft.
The electrically powered Solar Impulse (HB-SIA) is an amazing airplane and I was anxious to see it fly during the Paris Air Show. Unfortunately for me and probably many others who attended the biennial event, the weather did not cooperate until the last day of the show, June 26.
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