Electric aircraft

Electric aircraft

Infobox Aviation
name = Electric aircraft

caption = Helios electric-powered UAV

An electric aircraft is an aircraft that runs on electric motors rather than internal combustion engines, with electricity coming from fuel cells, solar cells, ultracapacitors, power beaming, [ [http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/gallery/Photo/Power-Beaming/index.html Power Beaming] ] and/or batteries. Advantages of electric aircraft include improved maneuverability due to the greater torque from electric motors, increased safety due to decreased chance of mechanical failure, less risk of explosion or fire in the event of a collision, and less noise, along environmental benefits associated with the elimination of consumption of fossil fuels and resultant emissions.Fact|date=March 2008 The main disadvantage is decreased range. The range can be increased by adding solar cells to the aircraft's body to create a solar airplane. However, the plane's surface area must be large compared to its weight for them to have a significant impact on range. Electric aircraft are appearing in aeromodelling, unmanned aerial vehicles, paragliders, and hang gliders.

Regenerative flight

Recent studies indicate that an electric aircraft can easily add a regenerative soaring feature, whereby its propeller, using symmetrical blade sections, can be used as a turbine to recharge stored energy when the aircraft encounters an updraft. An aircraft using regenerative soaring can potentially remain aloft indefinitely at high altitudes where the energy available from vertical atmospheric motion can exceed available solar power by a factor of ten or more. cite web|url = http://www.esoaring.com/barnes_regen_soaring_theory.ppt|title = Regenerative Soaring Theory|accessdate = 2008-08-06|last = Barnes|first = J. Phillip|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = July]


1970s and 1980s

olar Riser

The world’s first official flight in a solar powered, man carrying aircraft took place on April 29, 1979. The Solar Riser was built by Larry Mauro and was based on the Easy Riser biplane hang glider. The aircraft used photovoltaic cells that produced 350 watts at 30 volts, which charged a Hughes 500 helicopter battery, which in turn powered the electric motor. The aircraft was capable of powering the motor for 3 to 5 minutes, following a 1.5 hour charge, enabling it to reach a gliding altitude. cite web|url = http://www.airventuremuseum.org/collection/aircraft/1UFM-Mauro%20Solar%20Riser.asp#TopOfPage|title = UFM/MAURO SOLAR RISER|accessdate = 2008-06-27|last = Experimental Aircraft Association, Inc.|authorlink = |year = 2008]

Gossamer Penguin and Solar Challenger

The Gossamer Penguin, a smaller version of the human powered Gossamer Albatross was completely solar powered. A second prototype, the Solar Challenger, flew 262 km (163 mi) from Paris to England in 1981. [http://www.vectorsite.net/twuav_12.html#m3]

olar Challenger

Designed by Dr. Paul MacCready the Solar Challenger set an altitude record of 14,300 feet. On 7 July 1981, the aircraft, under solar-power, flew 163 miles from Corneille-en-Verin Airport near Paris across the English Channel to RAF Manston near London, flying for 5:23. cite web|url = http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-054-DFRC.html|title = Solar-Power Research and Dryden|accessdate = 2008-06-27|last = Curry|first = Marty|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = March]

NASA Pathfinder

NASA's Pathfinder and Helios were a series of solar and fuel cell system-powered unmanned aircraft. AeroVironment, Inc. developed the vehicle under NASA's Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology program.



In 1990 the solar powered glider Sunseeker successfully flew across the USA, piloted by Eric Raymond. [ cite web|url = http://www.evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=709|title = Sunseeker Seeks New Records|accessdate = 2008-02-08|last = Moore|first = Bill|authorlink = |year = 2004|month = June] It used a small battery charged by the solar cells on the wing, to drive a propeller for takeoff, and then flew as a motorised glider using a mixture of solar power, thermals and updrafts.


Antares 20E

The Antares 20E is an electric, self-launching sailplane with a 42-kW DC/DC brushless motor (called EM42) and lithium-ion batteries. It can climb up to 3,000 meters with fully charged cells. [http://www.lange-flugzeugbau.com/htm/english/news/news.html]

olar Impulse

Bertrand Piccard, who piloted the first balloon to circle the world non-stop, unveiled the prototype design for the Solar Impulse, an aircraft meant to repeat that feat using only solar power. Called the HB-SIA, the prototype aircraft consists of wing covered with solar cells with a span of 200 feet (~60 meters). Despite that huge wing span, the craft will employ lightweight materials to tip the scales at only 3,300 pounds (~1,500 kilograms). That combination will allow the plane to fly at just 28 miles per hour (45 kilometers per hour), a speed that will keep energy consumption low, allowing the solar panels to not only power the craft during the day, but to also store up enough energy to keep it flying at night. Construction of the HB-SIA began in June and is expected to be complete by the summer of 2008.

However, the HB-SIA is not expected to circle the globe. Instead, it will serve as a prototype to test both the flying characteristics and the energy performance of the design. The craft will feature minimal instrumentation and a non-pressurized cockpit, which forces it to stay below 28,000 feet (~8500 meters) in elevation. Test flights are expected to begin in the (northern hemisphere's) fall (autumn) of 2008, and the first all-night flight should occur in 2009. The Solar Impulse team hopes to build the final aircraft and fly it across the Atlantic by 2011, followed sometime later by the circumnavigation attempt. Piccard initiated the Solar Impulse project in 2003, but since then the team has grown to a multi-disciplinary team of 50 specialists from six countries, assisted by about 100 outside advisers.

APAME Electra

The Association pour la Promotion des Aéronefs à Motorisation Électrique (APAME) "(English: Association for the Promotion of Electric Powered Aircraft)" first flew their Electra electric-powered open-cockpit airplane at 1150 hrs (local) on Sunday, 23 December 2007 at Aspres sur Buech airfield, Hautes Alpes, France. Test pilot Christian Vandamme flew the strut-equipped aircraft for 48 minutes, covering 50 km (31 statute miles). The Electra is powered by an 18 kW (24 hp) disk-brush electrical motor driven by a 47 kg (104 lb) lithium polymer battery power pack. cite web|url = http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/APAMEAnnouncesElectricFlight_196847-1.html|title = APAME Announces Electric Flight|accessdate = 2008-01-20|last = Pew|first = Pew|authorlink = |year = 2007|month = December] cite web|url = http://www.apame.eu/AA%20Projects.html|title = WORLDWIDE PREMIERE: FIRST AIRCRAFT FLIGHT WITH ELECTRICAL ENGINE|accessdate = 2008-01-20|last = APAME|authorlink = |year = 2007|month = December]


The Pegasus unmanned aerial vehicle is an aircraft that flies strictly on electric engines and PV-solar power. It was developed by VITO and is intended for use in the GMES-program, for missions such as environmental monitoring.Fact|date=January 2008

First AA battery powered aircraft

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and undergraduates at the Tokyo Institute of Technology teamed up to build an aircraft powered by 160 AA battery cells and successfully flew it for a distance of convert|391|m|ft|sp=us in July, 2006. [ [http://web-japan.org/trends/science/sci060929.html Battery-Powered Plane] ]


In April 2007 the Electric Aircraft Corporation began offering complete electric ultralights (ElectraFlyer) and engine kits to convert existing ultralight aircraft to electric power, in what is the first commercial offering of an electric aircraft.

The 18 hp engine package weighs 26 lbs and an efficiency of 90% is claimed by the company. The battery consists of two lithium-polymer battery packs which provides 1.5 hours of flying in the trike application. cite web|url = http://www.avweb.com/news/snf/SunNFun2008_Electraflyer_TrikeMotorglider_BatteryPower_197632-1.html|title = Electraflyer Flies Trike, Motorglider On Battery Power|accessdate = 2008-04-13|last = Grady|first = Mary|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = April] cite web|url = http://www.electraflyer.com/tech.html|title = ElectraFlyer Technical details|accessdate = 2008-04-13|last = Electric Aircraft Corporation|authorlink = |year = 2007]

In January 2008 the company introduced their new ElectraFlyer-C at the Sebring Light Sport Aircraft Show. This aircraft is a converted Monnett Moni motor glider equipped with an 18-hp electric motor, regenerative-braking-capable controller package and two lithium polymer battery packs. The engine weighs 29 lbs and the battery packs weigh 78 lbs total. The aircraft has a climb rate of 500 fpm, cruise of 70 mph and an endurance of 90 minutes. It is capable of being recharged from a 110 volt source in six hours or from a 220 volt source in two hours. The aircraft began flying in May 2008 and was demonstrated before the crowds on August 2 at AirVenture] 2008. cite web|url = http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/electric_airplane_randall_fishman_198151-1.html|title = Electric Power For Experimentals, Perhaps LSA's|accessdate = 2008-06-27|last = Pew|first = Glenn|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = June]

onex Aircraft

During AirVenture 2007 Sonex Aircraft announced that they are working on a series of alternate power initiatives, including an electric-powered aircraft. The announcement included the display of a Waiex motor glider with a proof-of-concept prototype electric powerplant installed in it. cite web|url = http://www.sonexaircraft.com/press/releases/pr_072407.html|title = Sonex Aircraft, LLC and AeroConversions Unveil E-Flight Initiative for Sport Aircraft Alternative Energy Research & Development|accessdate = 2008-06-06|last = Sonex Aircraft|authorlink = |year = 2007|month = July]

Enfica-FC Project

The ENFICA-FC(ENvironmentally Friendly Inter City Aircraft powered by Fuel Cells) is a project lead by Boeing that uses a Diamond Super Dimona HK-36 motor glider as a test bed for a fuel cell powered light airplane research project. cite web|url = http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/BoeingFliesFuelCellAircraft_197531-1.html|title = Boeing Flies Fuel Cell Aircraft |accessdate = 2008-05-13|last = Niles|first = Russ|authorlink = |year = 2008|month = April] cite web|url = http://www.enfica-fc.polito.it/en|title = ENvironmentally Friendly Inter City Aircraft powered by Fuel Cells (ENFICA-FC) |accessdate = 2008-05-13|last = Turin Polytechnic University|authorlink = |year = undated]

Successful test flights took place in February and March 2008.

Boeing's partners in the project are Intelligent Energy of Britain (fuel-cell); Diamond Aircraft of Austria (Airframe); Spanish Sener (control system); Spanish Aerlyper (integrate motor with airframe); Advanced Technology Products, a U.S. company (motor, batteries, flight testing). [cite web|url = http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2003/q3/nr_030711p.html|title = Boeing Announces Partners for Fuel Cell Demonstrator Airplane Project |accessdate = 2008-05-13|]

QinetiQ Zephyr

The QinetiQ Zephyr is a lightweight solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle engineered by the United Kingdom defence firm, QinetiQ. It is of carbon-fibre construction, weighs 30 kg (66 lbs) and can be equipped with wings of up to 18 metres (59 feet) in span. It uses sunlight to charge lithium-sulphur batteries during the day, which power the aircraft at night. The aircraft has been designed for use in observation and communications relay. cite web|url = http://www.qinetiq.com/home/products/zephyr.html|title = Zephyr - QinetiQ High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)|accessdate = 2008-09-14|last = QinetiQ Group PLC|authorlink = |year = undated]

The Zephyr holds the world record for the longest duration unmanned flight with a 54-hour, 58,355 foot flight in September 2007.

ee also

* Electric vehicle
* Model aircraft
* Radio-controlled aircraft
* European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
* Hydrogen fuel cell
* Plug-in hybrid
* Solar energy
* Power beaming


External links

* [http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/11/air-bp-launches.html#more Air BP Launches Plug-in Hybrid Electric Aircraft Vehicle] (at the Dubai Airshow 2007)
* [http://www.apame.eu/ APAME Electra]
* [http://www.enfica-fc.polito.it/en Enfica-fc project]
* [http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000E6AF3-C2D8-1CDB-B4A8809EC588EEDF Solar Flyer]
* [http://www.evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=878 Sky-high Hydrogen Flyer]
* [http://www.solarimpulse.com Solar Impulse]
* [http://www.acpropulsion.com/solong/ SoLong Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)]
* [http://www.evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=1265 The Evolution of Electrically-Powered Flight]
* [http://airhybridblog.com/2006/11/ World’s First Hybrid Airplane Engine]

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