Idea: Series hybrid in airplane using auto engine and avoiding the pitfalls of auto conversions

I have been thinking this back and forth now quite some time. This idea is quite simple, the purpose is to fix the most critical problem with auto conversions, achieve better aerodynamics, propeller placement and mass and inertia distribution.

Auto conversions most often fail, no surprise, because of the reduction gear or belt. The core engine is not the root cause in the problems and many problems with the reduction belt or gear system can not be seen beforehand because the dynamics of the vibrations of the engine, propeller and their inertia forces affecting each other is a bit more complicated than one could think at first - it is not that simple to make these parts to last for hundreds or thousands of hours.

So we came up (with Kate, we usually talk with Kate about these things and we kind of invent these things together, I usually happen to be the one who writes them down - and it is usually so that Kate is the opponent into which I test my idea's feasibility before I write it here) with the idea of having a auto engine, possibly a diesel engine, running at constant power, most likely exactly at the optimum point of the engine, always. Then all the power variation would come from the electric motors which would drive the propellers. The idea is that the diesel engine only runs a generator.

The downside of this idea is the additional weight from the generator, batteries, motor controllers, electric motors and the props (depending how many electric motors are used, it is also possible to use just one if that is preferred). However, there are two several things possibly good about this:

- First the diesel engine burns less fuel, resulting smaller fuel tanks.
- Secondly the gearbox system is saved. The gearbox system can be very heavy duty in a high power aircraft engine and they still have tendency to fail. Possibly something like 40-50 kg is saved straight away.
- Thirdly the aerodynamic advantage - optimal aerodynamic shape without using long extension shafts and couplings to deal with the dynamics of the rotating shaft connected to a non-optimally rotating propeller and the power pulses of the diesel engine. Now there is the chance to put the engine anywhere in the airframe where it best fits and propeller drive don't need to be considered at all.

Then there is the redundancy thing. Brushless DC electric motors usually never fail, but the prop can still fail in bad circumstances. Therefore having two independent props for the one diesel engine could be advantageous. Same thing with the batteries - if the diesel engine fails, the batteries could be sized such that the aircraft can fly without the diesel engine for example for 30 minutes in level flight. That might be enough in most cases to get safely on the ground, except on middle of an ocean. The most likely place for the engine to fail is the takeoff. This takeoff stress would never happen with this engine configuration - the engine would be run always at optimum and safe power, never on takeoff power. The extra power for the takeoff can be easily taken from the batteries if they have proper capacity and the electric motors are powerful enough. On takeoff the batteries at full power are not discharging that quickly, because the diesel engine is recharging the batteries at the same time. The takeoff power can be rarely used for longer than 5 minutes on an aircraft equipped with Lycoming engine either, so having a limited period of time for the full power is not that big problem.

Generator and electric motor can have very high efficiency, and the gap to a efficiency of a reduction belt system is not that great. Best electric motors (though heavy ones) are around 98% efficient.

On descent the diesel engine could be shut down providing there was enough battery capacity. The motors could actually regenerate also batteries when the pilot wants to decelerate the plane.

Maintenance cost would be like a single engine aircraft, but the reliability geared towards a twin. Of course there is the one little fine print: the battery pack is expensive and it has an expiration time and date, unfortunately. But nothing is perfect and without compromises.

Any comments about this idea? This surely would not be a racer as the power to weight ratio would be rather poor, but anyhow I am thinking, providing it would be efficient enough to climb adequately, this would be a quite economical thing to fly and also easy conversion-wise, almost stock auto engine would be okay, no reduction gear and prop installation and an assembly that takes the push or pulling loads, would be needed. Also waiting on the airport would not waste any energy, since props can be completely stopped when the plane does not need to move. For example Lycoming IO-360 consumes about the same amount of gasoline per hour when waiting on IFR clearance on the ground than our Toyota Prius car on highway. Consuming zero amount of fuel when still on the ground, but still being ready, would save some liters.

And answer to the question, why diesel and not gasoline when gasoline engines can be run very lean and quite great specific fuel consumption values can be achieved in optimal conditions - it is quite simple: availability of the 100LL/Avgas seems to be becoming poor. There has been three 100LL operators in Finland, but two of them decided to discontinue this year. There is only one left. When that only one decides that it is not profitable enough, there is no 100LL available for anybody and the whole country's fleet of Lycoming and Continental based planes are grounded. The Jet-A1 is not going anywhere, so engine that can burn the jet fuel would be a safe bet. Jet engine, turboprop, or turbofan are out of the question because those are not available in meaningful sizes and power classes - there is not a small turbofan that would have high pressure ratio and bypass ratio available, nobody manufactures such a thing. And it is unlikely anybody will in the future because this personal flying all is a very niche market unfortunately until it changes for better (if it ever does).

The implementation possibilities have challenges; namely no such electric motor available (would require custom motors possibly), etc. And the weight also causes penalty for the efficiency and speed of the plane. But the power to weight ratio will be with this arrangement a lot better than on a pure electric aircraft. And pure electric aircraft is feasible, why an electric aircraft with a generator and a fueltank added would not be.

And by the way, even if it is first of April at the time of writing this, this blog post is not an April fool.

From Rijeka to Niš

Soon flights from Rijeka to Niš
Those that believed that there would be no flights between Croatia and Serbia this summer might be surprised to learn that the Croatian charter airline Adria Wings will commence flights between Rijeka and Niš as early as May. The news comes after Niš’s recent tourism fair where the city authorities and the management of Rijeka Airport agreed on the terms of the new service. Rijeka Airport’s management hopes that passengers from Niš will not only visit Rijeka but will also use the airport as a transit point towards Western European destinations.

Adria Wings was once known as Air Adriatic, which was Croatia’s first privately owned airline. Air Adriatic lost its operating license in 2007. The city authorities in Niš have come under fire for large subsidies it has given to low cost airline Wind Jet and Montenegro Airlines for their operations from the city. According to a report by “Balkan Insight”, Niš is obliged to cover the cost of 40 seats on each Montenegro Airlines flight and 100 seats on every Wind Jet flight. Critics say that tax payer’s money should be spent on more pressing issues as the city suffers from underdevelopment and unemployment.

The Second (Chantz) Around

Just out of a 3-day stomach bug sick bed, I must still be a bit delirious 'cause that old Sinatra tune, "Love is wonderful, the second time around" keeps winding through my fuzzy brain.
No doubt I'm subconsciously morphing into music the news I got yesterday from old hang gliding pal and ultralight/light sport entrepreneur John Dunham that he's back, in the biz he made so successful in the '80s - Second Chantz Aerial Survival Equipment
His company sold more than 4,000 ballistic recovery systems when it was in operation, and has documented more than 70 saves worldwide.
You can read all the gore-y details on John's blog linked above but a brief bio must include his deep hang gliding/ultralight/LSA background as pilot, test pilot, instructor and savvy manufacturer/businessman from the early '70s.  He's an all-around talent, this guy!
John's Flight Design West biz in Nevada marketed several LSA including the Flight Design CT and the lovely (and we hope soon-to-be-resurrected) Lambada motorglider.
So welcome back John!
By email, he tells me the reinvigorated Second Chantz (which closed shop when he left mid-'90s) will:
* make and sell recovery systems for most LSA in operation and coming onto the market.

* repack, update and do scheduled service for ballistic recovery systems made by any manufacturer - including market leader BRS (More than 6,000 old systems require service, and new rockets!) Propellants do get "stale" over time...not good.  Can't save your neck with a dead load.
* market and sell Magnum ballistic recovery systems from Czech company Stratos 07, which makes several models for a variety of aircraft from hang gliders and trikes to LSA.
Around 100 Magnum systems are installed around the U.S. so far, on models from Remos, Flight Design/Europe, Samba, Lambada and more.
With his own Second Chantz line, John tells me "I'll offer a rocket system, and update older systems with new rockets...and be price competitive with BRS."
He's also resurrecting his compressed gas deployment propellant systems for all types of light aircraft.
"I will be working with new pressure cylinders that give me up to 6000 psi...twice the power we worked with 15 years ago!"
He hopes to develop 10,000 psi cylinders soon, which will  "do the job explosives do for bigger parachute systems, with cool nitrogen gas rockets."
John Dunham and Second Chantz look forward to giving BRS, and its "virtual monopoly" on the U.S. market, a friendly run for its money.
But he's in it for more than that: "It's what I know and love...and hearing or reading the words “Thanks for saving my Life” becomes addictive."

B&H cancelations

No go for Banja Luka and Zagreb
According to exclusive insider information, Source : EXYU aviation news : has received word that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s national carrier will not commence services to either Banja Luka or Zagreb. The airline had plans to commence services to Banja Luka with 11 weekly flights from Sarajevo, starting May 01. Flights JA002 and JA006 bound from Sarajevo to Banja Luka were to have various departure times, including 12.00, 12.30, 18.45 and 21.45. The flights have been cancelled without explanation although it is believed the airline has failed to secure rights. Despite the setback, B&H is still negotiating with authorities in the hope that flights could soon begin.

Meanwhile, even more puzzlingly, the carrier will not commence its planned 6 weekly service to the Croatian capital Zagreb. The flights were to depart Sarajevo at 18.45 from May 01. According to our sources there is a possibility that the airline will resume services to Macedonia’s capital Skopje. These flights were cancelled last summer and at one point some services were operated via Podgorica.

The only new service for the summer, which seems to be confirmed, is to Belgrade. Flight details can soon be found in the new route launches section.

Collins Road, Hamilton

The Waikato Microlight Club staged their 4th Open Day at their Collins Road strip located on the southern fringes of Hamilton City. Other family orientated activities participated in the event held on the surrounding farm land including off road vehicle rides and remote control aircraft displays. Strong southwest winds did not deter aviator's from taking members of the public on joy rides and interestingly the following day, with little wind at all, there was less in the way of 'visiting' aircraft.

The following gravity defying machines were on location over the weekend of 27/28Mar.

Rotor Flight Dominator; RAW
Tandem Dominator; REG
C172; DXO, MAT
Quicksilver; FXO
Mirage; FEQ
Zenair CH701SP; ESY
Zenith CH601XL; MEY, OBH
Tecnam; NOL, TEB
Jodel D11; DBY, MMB
Rand Kar Xair; JCK, JOX
Robertson B1-RD; MLW
Alpi ; LPJ, TNB
McNair Mynah; FQU
Sportscruiser; SXY
Aviation Storm; WCO
Rans Sakota; SIO
Bell 47J; ICJ
Dragonfly; IXE

Big passenger slump

That empty feeling ... Croatia Airlines
Croatia Airline started the year off with a big slump in passenger numbers. It took the Association of European Airlines (AEA) to reveal Croatia Airlines’ figures. In the first month of the year, January, Croatia Airlines reported a 10.9% passenger decrease. This is a big slump for the leading carrier in the EX-YU region and the airline which seemed to sale through the global financial crisis mostly unharmed in comparison to other European airlines. In January, Croatia Airlines had 91.100 passengers and its load factor stood at 51.5%.

Meanwhile, Adria Airways was breakeven in January, neither recording an increase or decrease. Its cabin occupancy index stands at 57.7% and is the highest out of the 3 leading EX-YU airlines.

In sudden reversal of events, Jat Airways, which has for month’s been reporting a big passenger decline, has managed to become the only major EX-YU carrier to report growth in January. The growth has continued throughout February and results for March are expected to be announced in 2 weeks. Jat carried some 4.000 passengers more than Adria in January but still trails Croatia Airlines by a hefty 23.000 passengers.

Our 1000th posting.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have contributed in some way to helping us reach this - our 1000th blog.
The first tentative blog appeared on 12-12-2007.

I would also like to thank the aircraft and airfield owners and operators who allow us to photograph their aircraft and permit us to meander around their hangars and airfields.

Safari at Rangiora

Below is a selection of photographs taken at Rangiora today (Monday the 29th March 2010).
First pic shows a bunch of AutoGyro Europe MTo3 Eagles with ZK-YOG , c/n NZ005 , nearest.

Zenair CH701 STOL amphibian ZK-STL , c/n 7-9777 , with the two Bob's races away.

Cessna 182) Skylane ZK-SGH , c/n 182P-62007 showing part of its Peterson 260SE Stol conversion mods. (see comments).

The near new Autogyro Europe Calidus Fern ZK-OTM , c/n NZC001 , just arriving for lunch.
OTM presumably for Otmar Birkner.

Bob Power and Peter Mant with the FoxconTerrier 200 ZK-NRS , c/n 2003 .

There were a couple of Maules about. Mx-7-180A ZK-MUL , c/n 20052C , with David & Daniel Campbell is a 2007 import.

Michael Boyles dropped in with his Thorp S-18T ZK-MBY , c/n 222 ,

Chris & Matthew Hoffman head away on the next leg in the tidy Piper PA-28R-201 Arrow 111 ZK-EIF , c/n 28R 7837132.

A "real" Cessna 172 was this Skyhawk ZK-EHA2 , c/n 36748 , wearing a for sale label on its side window.

Didn't see a lot of warbirds around. Nanchang ZK-JQS and the RNZAF Parrot NZ1988 were on the ground with the Catalina flying overhead. Plus of course the Rob Mackley Cessna O-1G Bird Dog ZK-DOG , c.n 23452, in better than new condition.

The Grumman American AA5A Cheetah ZK-DLL , c/n AA5A-0409 , with Margaret and Colin Wright was looking rather smart also.

Not conected with the Safari (afaik) was the Don Boyd Zenair CH601 HDS ZK-DBZ2 , c/n 6-2284. It was at Brent Thompsons's having its propeller attented to.

"Little Legs" was noted on the side of the Tecnam P92 Echo Super ZK-CLH2.

One of the older aircraft seen was the 1954 vintage Southair Cessna 180 ZK-BEL , 30614.

Lined up to go after lunch.

Some recent accident victims.

Cessna U206G Stationair 6 11 ZK-SKT , c/n U206G-06609, was involved in a fatal crash on take off at Marsden Cove on 12-03-2010.
Pic taken at Nelson on 07-12-2004.

Robinson R22 Beta ZK-HVC2 , c/n 0954 , from Minaret Station, beyond Wanaka, hooked its skid on a strop and rolled over backwards and down a hill on 16-03-2010.
This pic taken at Wanaka Airport in the early hours of 13-04-2006.

Robinson R22HP ZK-HTD , c/n 0223 , struck the terrain courtesy of a downdraught in the Paparoa Ranges, on 11-03-2010.
Pic taken at Heli Maintenance at Christchurch on 04-12-2009.

Bell 206B JetRanger 11 ZK-HBJ2 , c/n 206B-1211 had a ground strike after a spraying run near Wairoa on 11-02-2010.
Pic taken at Hastings 09-02-2007.

Summer begins

New flights on the horizon
The 2010 northern hemisphere summer season in aviation begins today. Together, EX-YU airlines Adria Airways, B&H Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Jat Airways and Montenegro Airlines will offer over 1.000 weekly flights.

Adria Airways will be offering its services to 25 destinations. It will resume seasonal summer flights to Barcelona, Dublin, Manchester and Stockholm. The airline should receive 2 new Airbus A319s next month in order to replace its single Airbus A320. B&H Airline will also await the arrival of the long announced Boeing B737-700 this summer. The airline plans to introduce flights to Belgrade and Zagreb in May and connect Bosnia and Herzegovina’s second largest city, Banja Luka, with the capital, Sarajevo, 11 times per week. Croatia Airlines will receive 2 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s in the next 2 weeks in order to replace one of its Airbus A320s. The airline will commence seasonal flights to Athens, Lisbon, Lyon and Tel Aviv. Jat Airways faces privatisation this summer and the possible arrival of its 2 Boeing B737-700s. By June 1, the airline’s grounded fleet should be operational. Jat will introduce seasonal flights to Portorož, Gothenburg, Thessaloniki and Ohrid and will significantly increase its frequencies in the region to destinations such as Ljubljana, Skopje, Sarajevo, Podgorica and Tivat. Finally, Montenegro Airlines will be introducing flights to Dusseldorf and Copenhagen. The airline will accept its new Embraer E195 jet in June. Montenegro Airlines also plans to launch a Serbian subsidiary in Niš.

More SportCruiser

At Stratford last weekend (20-03-2010) there were four Sportcruisers lined up .

One of them - ZK-CZR2 , c/n 06SCC020 , is somewhat different from the others in having a steerable nosewheel modification done. This aircraft has now done some 770 hours with the Motueka Recreational Flight Training Ltd since July of 2007 (thanks to Alistair Hart - who in his spare time drives a -8 Q300).
Below (as a comparison) is the standard castoring nosewheel - This one on, ZK-DAR , c/n 07SC074 , is from Peter Rutledge's Aerohire Ltd of Tauranga.

Piper SportCruiser

As I am sure you all already know - Piper have announced the taking over of the worldwide distribution of the Czech Aircraft Works SportCruiser and rebranding it as the PiperSport.
Production is to remain in the Czech Republic with three equipment standard models to be available. There is the basic version followed by the LT and the LTD versions.
Aerosport Aviation's ZK-SXY5 has already been rebranded as the PiperSport, as seen above at Stratford with Anton on 20-03-2010. I believe that Aerosport have been appointed as the Australasian agents for Piper.

Cessna 180 ZK-BUS

Well since the picture link in the comment posted below didn't seem to work, I shall repost it here.

Syd Lister and his 'old bus' at Levels 1977

Question time # 91

A very easy one this week.
What aircraft type & model is this.

& in case of a flood of correct answers, tell me what its current registration is -
Then how about its previous registration.

Judges decision will be final & no correspondence will be entered into.

Sale is on the cards

Another year – another promise

Serbia is considering ways to make its loss making national carrier Jat Airways attractive to investors, such as taking on its debt and paying for redundancies, the prime minister said on Friday. Mirko Cvetković told Reuters that the current situation at Jat was so dire that "not only will no one give you a single penny, but you will have to pay someone to come in". Serbia has long sought to find a buyer or partner for Jat and, earlier this week, the government said it would launch a tender next month to find a partner to revive its national carrier. Cvetković said the plan is under discussion and is modeled after that used recently to sell Greece's Olympic Airlines. "This model basically means that you create a new core and the new core is (taking over) the activity of the existing company while the government takes care of the redundant workers and the assets of the existing companies and obviously the credit" he said. "If we are paying, which we will probably have to do, then why don't we start at the very beginning and (with) this payment ... resolve the inherited problems in the area of creditors and redundant people".

Serbia, which is Jat's largest creditor, is seeking a partner to take a 51% stake, although any carrier not party to the open skies agreement could get a 49% stake and Serbia would sell off another 2% to another firm to retain only a minority stake, Cvetković said.

This is yet another in a line of promises when it comes to the sale of Serbia’s national carrier. So far, politicians have said that various companies have been interested in purchasing Jat, from Air Berlin to a former chips factory owner, but none of them came true. Less than a month ago Cvetković himself said that Jat shouldn’t be sold in 2010. Now it seems his tune has changed. What happens next remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Back At the Electric Ranch...

The Creative Solutions Alliance (CSA) is a nonprofit organization, founded by Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles "Lucky Lindy" Lindbergh, that just announced his creation of the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP).
In stirring language as quoted to AOPA's Alton K. Marsh, Lindbergh says, "We are literally teaching the next generation to imagine and create their future."
The idea, as we've seen in the past with similar contests such as the Orteig Prize (1st Atlantic crossing won by Lindbergh) Kremer Prize (human powered flight - Gossamer Condor), and the X-Prize (1st private suborbital space flight), is to "promote the practical development of electric aircraft by recognizing specific advances in this emerging cleantech (sic) industry."
Prizes will be awarded for:
Best Electric Aircraft:  keyword in this category is practical, and it can be an Experimental, LSA or Certified aircraft.
Best Electric Aircraft Sub-System: component systems that advance the field of electric aircraft
Best Electric Aircraft Component Technology:  Individual components such as batteries, motors, power electronics etc.
Public Choice Award: We get to vote on our favorite, flying or not, "practical or not"!
The winners in each category will be announced at Oshkosh's EAA Airventure this summer.
Anybody want to take early odds on the Yuneec e430, already a design award winner?
Or the ElectraFlyer X, shown at right?
---images courtesy CSA and ElectraFlyer

Spring Buzzzzz...

Everybody laments the high cost of LSA ownership: here's an alternative...especially if you like true bugs-in-teeth aviating like our winged forefathers...uh, and foremothers of, forepersons?  Sheesh.  Staying PC is so last week.
Manfred Ruhmer, the German hang glider world champion and one-time distance record holder of 435 miles (current record is 444 mi.!), has been working on his own electric-powered trike - named the Icaro 2000 Pit-Trike.
Chalk up that curious name to translation from the Italian.  Maybe it grabs the air like a pit bull?  Icaro's price page calls it Nano Trike - take your pick!
BTW, a "trike" is a wheeled undercarriage, powered by a pusher-prop powerplant, that allows a conventional foot-launched (or aero-towed) hang glider to fly under its own power.   

The trike unit without hang glider wing lists between $11,000 and $15,000 US, reports my pal Dan Johnson, before shipping,
and you still have to add your own hang glider - another $3K to $6K.
Still, here's an electric-powered aircraft you can own for as little as $15,000 or so!
Before we go further, check out this video.  And note when the pilot (it's Ruhmer himself) shuts down the power while soaring in ridge lift over the trees.  The prop folds to streamline and the lightweight trike becomes a soaring machineNow we're talking!

Icaro produces the design as part of its Light Trike line.  It's a long-respected maker of hang gliders.
What's encouraging is this is yet another electric-powered aircraft to come to market.  Electric powered vehicles of all types are the coming thing, believe it.
Other notable electric projects we've talked about recently:
--- Several models from China's Yuneec (all-electric award-winning E430 SLSA, "paramotors" for paragliders, and another hang glider trike still in development, being test flown by another big hang glider name - France's Gerard Thevenot).
--- FlightStar's e-Spyder, in advanced development at Yuneec with Tom Peghiny's oversight (it's a modified FlightStar which Tom produces)
--- Randall Fishman's American-made ElectraFlyer Trike, ElectraFlyer C and ElectraFlyer X two-seat SLSA.
But unlike many others still coming to market, you can buy Icaro's trike now.
Prayer to: God/Santa/Gaia/Buddha/Jahweh et al.: please please please let Icaro show up at Sun 'n Fun so I can whangle a ride.  Or the newest eSpyder prototype.  Or the Yuneec e430 again.  Or all of them.
---images and video courtesy Icaro

I remember when !

I remember when the Wellington Aero Club operated two Cessna 180's ZK-BUS and ZK-BKG.
The pic below shows them together at Wellington. (Lyall Bay under the cowl of BKG).

ZK-BKG , c/n 30376 , spent a couple of years on the US register between 1953 and its registration to the Wellington Aero Club on 5-10-1955. It received its NZ C of A on 17-10-1955 and was first flown the following day by Cliff Andrews (designer & builder of the Andrews A1 ZK-BLU). It was sold to Aerial Work (Marlborough) on 11-02-1960; went to the North Otago Aero Club in October of 1961 followed by a hire to Southern Scenic from late 1962. Brian & Frank Hore of Gimmerburn and Nokomai Stations operated her from early 1963 until passing it to Rex Aviation in April of 1972 for onward sale to the Richards family of Hororata and Darfield. Richard Royds of Aoraki Mount Cook Ski Planes joined the list on 17-04-2003. It is still very much alive and well. Pic below taken at Ashburton on 16-01-2010.

ZK-BUS , c/n 30949 , came along a little later. Joining the Club on 19-08-1957 & gaining its C of A on 13-09-1957. It had an interesting event at Paraparaumu on 24-12-1958 when it was blown onto the Auster ZK-ATP. Both survived to fly again. It was sold to and listed with Syd Lister of Temuka on 23-01-1963 and remained with him for something like 37 years, until passing to Terry Hewitt of Wenderry Holdings of Ashburton on 18-07-2000. Pic shows ZK-BUS in its hangar at Ashburton on 07-02-2009 which it shares with the Cessna Titan ZK-NDY.

That probably means that the photo of them both together at Wellington was taken between August 1957 and February of 1960.

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