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Electric Aircraft

— Drones

Stalker UAS flight time improved by 2,400 percent using laser beams

Late last year, DARPA researchers upped the standard two-hour endurance of Lockheed Martin’s Stalker small unmanned aerial system (UAS) by a factor of four using a propane-fueled compact solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). Now the flight time of the aircraft has been improved by a whopping 2,400 percent, with a test flight lasting more than 48 hours using a laser power system to wirelessly transfer power to the UAS from the ground. Read More

Chip Yates all-electric Long-ESA aircraft breaks 200 mph speed barrier

The last time we caught up with electric vehicle pioneer Chip Yates, he was in the latter stages of his pilot training that would allow him to fly a yet-to-be-designed electric aircraft from New York to Paris along the same route taken by Charles Lindbergh. Having already claimed the crown for the world's fastest electric motorcycle in 2011, he has now stamped his seal on the title of first manned electric airplane to break the 200 mph barrier in level flight. Read More

FlyNano achieves first test flight

Last April, we told you about the FlyNano – a single-occupant petrol/electric microlight amphibious aircraft being developed by a Finnish aeronautical firm of the same name. At the time, some readers expressed skepticism, rightly pointing out that there was no video of the plane actually flying. That changed this week, however, as the company posted a video of one of the prototype’s first test flights. Read More
— Aircraft Feature

All-electric aircraft to emulate Lindbergh's historic transatlantic flight

Eighty five years ago, Charles Lindbergh became the first pilot to successfully fly from New York to Paris non-stop, claiming a substantial cash prize and securing a place in history in the process. Now another world record holder, Chip Yates, has announced plans to take on the same aviation challenge ... but this time the aircraft making the 3,600 mile non-stop flight will be all-electric. The ambitious project is still in its early stages but the Flight of the Century team has already developed a patent-pending battery deployment solution to replenish depleted batteries while the aircraft is in flight. Read More
— Aircraft

Volta Volaré's futuristic GT4 e-hybrid airplane available for order

Volta Volaré has begun taking orders for its four-seater GT4 hybrid private aircraft it calls "the most technologically advanced private aircraft available anywhere on Earth." Though the GT4 is perfectly capable of taking off and flying powered only electrically, a gas engine starts when the airplane's battery drops to 25 percent capacity in order to recharge it mid-flight. Surprisingly, perhaps, Volta Volaré makes a strong economic case for the GT4. Because the powertrain has only one moving part - the motor or "EViation Drive" - the company claims the need for maintenance is reduced significantly, offering increases in TBO (time between overhaul) by up to a factor of ten when compared to a combustion engine. Read More
— Drones

ELHASPA Electric High Altitude Solar Powered Aircraft makes first flight

There's no doubt that satellites have become an essential part of our daily lives, making things like communications, navigation, weather forecasting, and remote imaging all possible. Unfortunately, the orbiting objects can be very expensive, both to build and to launch into outer space. For some of the functions that they carry out, however, an actual satellite isn't required - a high altitude, long endurance (HALE) aircraft could also get the job done, and at a much lower cost. Some such aircraft have been powered by conventional fuel, batteries, and hydrogen. On November 13th, though, the Electric High Altitude Solar Powered Aircraft (ELHASPA) joined the ranks of HALE aircraft to fly using nothing but the power of the Sun. Read More
— Drones

First-ever manned flight of an electric multicopter takes place in Germany

By now, most readers are probably pretty familiar with quadracopters - small hovering unmanned electric aircraft, which get their lift from a set of four propellers. Well, make the whole thing larger, boost the number of propellers (and accompanying motors) to 16, and you get what German aircraft developer e-volo calls a multicopter. While the company has previously demonstrated unmanned drones, on October 21st it accomplished what it claims is a world first - a manned flight. Read More
— Aircraft

Pipistrel takes US$1.35 million first prize in NASA Green Flight Challenge

Two years ago, aircraft designers were invited to build an electric airplane that could fly at least 200 miles (322 km) in under two hours, using less than one gallon (3.8 liters) of fuel per occupant – or the electrical equivalent. Whichever plane performed best would win its makers a prize of US$1.35 million. That was the idea behind the Green Flight Challenge, a NASA competition that was managed by the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation, and funded by Google. Well, the challenge wrapped up last week, with the winners being announced this Monday. Pennsylvania’s Pipistrel-USA team took first place, for its Taurus G4. Read More
— Aircraft

Modern-day aviation pioneer achieves world's first untethered, manned electric helicopter flight

It's easy to look back at the history of exploration and aviation and feel like there's no mountains left to climb, that the age of the great pioneers is behind us and we're doomed to a future of LCD tanning and monitor hypnosis. But don't try telling that to Pascal Chretien. On August 12, this electrical/aerospace engineer and helicopter pilot took to the air in the world's first untethered, fully electric manned helicopter flight in a prototype machine that he designed and built almost entirely by himself within a 12 month development period. In his 2 minute, 10 second test flight, Chretien beat aviation giant Sikorsky into the record books - but it was not without significant risk. As the man himself puts it: "in case of crash I stand good chances to end up in kebab form." Read More
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