News and commentary about homebuilt/experimental aviation from the editors of Kitplanes Magazine.
Author: Dean Sigler
Dean Sigler has 34 years’ experience as a technical writer for electronics, engineering and communications companies. He writes Sustainable Skies for the Sustainable Aviation Foundation and the CAFE Blog for the CAFE Foundation.
A Stunning Sight at the Sustainable Aviation Symposium
Attendees at the 2017 Sustainable Aviation Symposium (held in San Francisco, California) could be forgiven their startle reactions when they confronted a science-fiction like scene at one end of the hall, washed in blue and green lights. A 50-foot wing suspended over a large, cleanly streamlined body was at once exciting and puzzling. What were these geometric shapes? Why weren’t they connected? If they represent a future flying machine, how will it be powered? Continue reading "Prandtl Wing, Goldschmied Fuselage"
The last six speakers closed out the afternoon session with aircraft, regulations, and ways to manage all the new traffic.
Mark Moore, NASA, Silicon Valley VTOL Air-Taxi Study
Dr. Moore started with an overview of all the unused Los Angeles helipads, required by law on every new high rise since 1974 until eliminated by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014. Most were not being used, and part of their original purpose – to allow life-saving drop-ins by Fire Department helicopters – seems reasonable even today. Moore asked what if we really tried to use these rooftops? Continue reading "CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium, Part Three"
John Langford: Aurora Flight Sciences and the Lightning Strike
Dr. Langford opened the second day with background on strides his firm has made in creating an unpiloted vertical takeoff and landing machine. The Lightning Strike is a 10,000 to 12,000 pound, high-speed craft with a turbine from partner Rolls-Royce and triple generators from partner Honeywell, all driving 18 wing-mounted and six canard-mounted electric, variable-pitch ducted fans. Both wings and canard pivot to allow vertical takeoff and landing, and tilt to horizontal mode to allow up to 400-knot cruising. This speed would be tactically beneficial. Continue reading "CAFE Foundation Electric Aircraft Symposium, Part Two"
Several speakers presented talks on controlling the coming wave of unmanned aerial systems traffic management (UTM).
Dr. Parimal Kopardekar on Safely Enabling Low-Altitude UAS Operations
Dr. Kopardekar of the NASA Ames Research Center showed that he and NASA have done a thorough job of understanding drone control, and planned a sequence of actions to address the issues.
A recent series of tests in isolated areas and a planned three further steps will see increasing authority being given operators. Phase 1, to have been accomplished in August last year, reserved testing in areas over water or away from population centers and unlikely to be used by general aviation. The unmanned aerial system pilot still had responsibility for sorting out problems. Phase 2 and beyond allow operations beyond the operator’s line of sight, with increasing levels of interactions with manned aircraft and over increasingly populated areas.
While we're still waiting for the battery breakthroughs that will let us fly infinite distances without recharging, several motors await energizing from whatever source is available. Speakers at the First Sustainable Aviation Symposium included solar energy, new battery chemistries, fuel cells and hydrogen, or even the regenerative power of the air itself in their presentations. Continue reading "Motors, Batteries, Solar Cells and Hydrogen – Power for Future Flight"