New 912iS Engine from Rotax

Rotax has added a new engine to its line of popular four-cylinder, four-stroke aircraft engines: the 912iS. The new engine represents somewhat of a technological leap for aircraft powerplants in that it features port fuel injection and an electronic engine management unit. Company officials rolled out the new engine at BRP/Rotax's company headquarters in Gunskirchen, Austria, on March 8. The launch customer, among several, for the new engine will be Pipistrel Aircraft, of Slovenia, an LSA and soon-to-be manufacturer of certified aircraft. Rotax clearly intends the 912iS to be a “green” engine with improved fuel economy and lower emissions as some of its design goals. Continue reading "New 912iS Engine from Rotax"

Green Flight Challenge, The Winners

The Pipistrel team.

Monday October 3 marked the Green Flight Challenge Expo, sponsored by Google and staged under the control tower at the center of Moffett Field, home of NASA Ames Research Center.

The four airplanes that flew in the Green Flight Challenge at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma Country Airport in Santa Rosa, California, were there, along with Greg Stevenson's full-size mockup of his GFC design and a Pipistrel Virus that had won an earler NASA/CAFE Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) Challenge.

Twenty exhibitors were on hand to show their approaches to green aviation, and three rows of tents protected exhibitors and their displays from the rain that started mid-afternoon. At about 11 a.m., attendees were brought to Building 3, in which NASA's acting Chief Technical Officer Joe Parrish recognized the GFC winners. Continue reading "Green Flight Challenge, The Winners"

Green Flight Challenge, The Main Event

CAFE Foundation Hangar Boss Mike Fenn waves the speed competition checkered flag.

Tuesday was a glorious, clear day, and one could see all the way to the peaks surrounding the Sonoma Valley. This was the day for the core event in the Green Flight Challenge, the test of whether an airplane could accomplish the primary goal of the competition, flying a 200 mile course in a precise way, maintaining a 100 mph or better average speed, and returning 200 passenger miles per gallon (or electrical equivalent) energy usage.

Truth to tell, there really isn't a lot to see other than the takeoffs of these spectacular airplanes, followed by two hours of waiting, during which they each fly over the airport four times, at at least 4000-foot altitude, and finally land at the end of their run. The tension of seeing whether there are any position changes, indicating that a faster airplane has overtaken a slower one, tends to provide some excitement, but the challenge of navigating the course and practicing the most precise flying skills can only be experienced by the pilots. Continue reading "Green Flight Challenge, The Main Event"

Green Flight Challenge, The Quiet Ones


Early this week many spectators at the Green Flight Challenge in Santa Rosa, California, had their first view of an electric airplane in flight.

After the weighing team rolled the Phoenix motorglider of Jim Lee and Jeff Shingleton from the hangar onto its impound location and completed initial weigh-ins for the remaining three aircraft, the airplanes were staged for the first flying event of the Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google.

Continue reading "Green Flight Challenge, The Quiet Ones"

Green Flight Challenge, Opening Remarks

KITPLANES Columnist Dean Sigler will be blogging from the Green Flight Challenge this week. Herewith, his first report on the entrants that arrived on Sunday.

Pipistrel G4: two fuselages, four passenger and one big motor.

The Pipistrel G4, with its twin motorglider fuselages and wide center section, supports a 145 kilowatt (200 horsepower) motor. The two pods can carry four passengers, occupants of neither crew compartment being able to see the other because of the intruding motor housing. The propeller is an elegantly curved, laminated wood design able to absorb the horsepower (most powerful electric motor flying on any airplane) and transmit the power to the air relatively noiselessly. Continue reading "Green Flight Challenge, Opening Remarks"