Help Promote Electric Aviation

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saini flyer

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http://cafe.foundation/blog/help-promote-electric-aviation/

Help Promote Electric Aviation
by DEAN SIGLER on 12/16/2019
Beth Stanton, an aerobatic pilot and superb writer (you can read her articles in Sport Aviation), shares the following action item. Readers are invited to comment to the FAA by December 31. Your comments could have a big effect promoting electric flight, especially in flight training.


Beth Stanton enjoying her favorite type of flying

“Progress on affordable electric training is happening!

“Joseph Oldham, director of the Sustainable Aviation Project (SAP) asked me to pass this information along –

“The SAP petition to the FAA for exemption to operate 4 Pipistrel Alpha Electro Aircraft with the issuance of a Special Light Sport Aircraft airworthiness certificate to conduct flight training is now posted for public comment:

“https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/12/09/2019-26468/petition-for-exemption-summary-of-petition-received-cities-of-mendota-and-reedley-california
“Comments must be received by 12/30/19.

Locations for Sustainable Aviation Project airports enable cross-country flights between participating sites

“The progress of the Sustainable Aviation Project has been featured in the past few years in two innovation features in EAA Sport Aviation magazine. An article with the latest updates is slated for the May 2020 issue of EAA Experimenter magazine.

“Details about the mission of the Sustainable Aviation Project may be found here.

“Please feel free to pass the petition along to your associates. Let’s help get the word out!
“Thanks,
“Beth”

We’ve promoted the Project in this blog extensively, since it’s a first attempt to provide certified flight training for electric aircraft:

http://cafe.foundation/blog/straight-out-of-compton-woodley/

http://cafe.foundation/blog/pipistrel-alpha-electros-come-to-california/
Why This is Important
Read up on the Project and help show the FAA that electric flight training is worthy of their support.

As explained by Clean Technica recently, “Nonetheless, at stake for Pipistrel is the Special Category Light-Sport Aircraft (SLSA) designation, a highly sought-after airworthiness certificate for light-sport aircraft. It is issued to those that meet the definition of light-sport aircraft (LSA). So far, the Pipistrel Alpha Electros only have the restrictive Experimental status. They can’t be used for training in the US, which is what they were designed for. These 4 US Pipistrel Alpha Electros can only be flown privately, not for commercial purposes.”

A pair of the four Pipistrel Alpha Electros awaiting SLSA certification


Nicholas Zart concludes, “An easier path to SLSA status would open the doors to flying electric airplanes and training planes. A new generation of pilots would have an easier and more affordable way to get into the aviation industry. Considering that the aviation industry is finding it more difficult to find pilots, this makes perfect sense in an otherwise less than perfect scenario. On a personal note, I could visit family, friends, and fly into airports to cover UAM news. The more I think about it, the more pressing the idea is becoming.”

Showing why speed is of the essence, other than the December 30 deadline for comments: “The other hidden problem is that electrifying aviation and going through the many years required for certification means that the technology certified will be obsolete by the time it is approved. Electric aviation is like what desktop computers were a few decades ago, upgradeable if it is to be financially worthwhile.”

Those wanting to advance clean aviation have a golden opportunity to make their voices heard, and good reason to raise them.
 

Voidhawk9

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What elements need an exemption? Sorry if that has been made clear already and I missed it.
Is it solely the type of propulsion?
Legal reserve requirements?
 

Toobuilder

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I judge aircraft powerplants on their performance. The popular catchphrases of "clean", "green," "sustainable", etc, are not only irrelevant to me, but actually diminish the creditability of the author/promoter in my eyes.

If electric power is viable, its going to have to buy its way in on technical, rather than pseudo-political merit.

Frankly, the minute the "green" flag is thrown, I tune out.
 

12notes

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What elements need an exemption? Sorry if that has been made clear already and I missed it.
Is it solely the type of propulsion?
Legal reserve requirements?
Probably the non type-certificated motor.

Not a fan until all electric used for charging is only from wind or solar, until then, its just smoke and mirrors. If not, it's still not clean aviation.
There's nothing preventing these from being charged by renewable power. Requiring a 100% switchover all at once of both the power sources and the vehicles is not practical, there is no way to manufacture an entire replacement fleet of vehicles or all power plants instantly. Deployment will take time, having electric vehicles that can use power generated both by renewable and non-renewable sources is the only way to make renewable a reality. Once the vehicles don't care what is generating the power (and this will take decades, the battery capacity now is only good enough for maybe 50% of use cases for cars, probably less than 1% of aviation), the power sources can be switched over. It can't happen the other way around, otherwise you're effectively getting rid of the gasoline before you replace the gasoline cars.

Fresno (where they are located) is closer than most cities to renewable energy generation. I haven't found a detailed analysis, but did find a report from 2015 stating that "The Greater Fresno area generates approximately 3,987 Megawatts(MW) of electricity through thermo,hydro,solar,and biomass facilities." If they ran that rate of production full time, this would approximately equaled electricity consumption that year (yes, I know that's an oversimplification), this at least has a reasonable shot of being clean aviation.
 

12notes

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I judge aircraft powerplants on their performance. The popular catchphrases of "clean", "green," "sustainable", etc, are not only irrelevant to me, but actually diminish the creditability of the author/promoter in my eyes.

If electric power is viable, its going to have to buy its way in on technical, rather than pseudo-political merit.

Frankly, the minute the "green" flag is thrown, I tune out.
It does buy its way in on technical merit, for limited use cases. ~1 hour training flights happens to be one of the use cases that it works for, similar to the Harbour Air short hop flights. The batteries can be recharged in 45 minutes or replaced in 5 minutes, so 2 battery packs can keep a training plane running 1 hour flights all day. You'd still need another plane for cross countries, but it would work for about 75% of training flights, and has the advantage of being able to train prop-stopped engine out scenarios with instant power available when the inevitable mistakes are made by the student.

It doesn't meet your use case, nor mine, nor nearly everyone on this message board, but it does work in limited roles, which is what they are promoting here. We're decades from electric long haul airliners, and it will probably be at least 10 years (by my estimation) from small planes getting even close to practical ranges, but they do fit this particular niche now.
 

crusty old aviator

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If batteries were meant to fly...they’d have wings? I haven’t seen any Lycomings with wings, but the FAA seems to think they’re okay. Electric is actually more reliable than recips and turbines because the power levels in the batteries are always a known quantity, not like fuel sloshing about in tanks and bladders, even with the best of fuel totalizers installed. There are very few high-stressed parts in the works and the high thermal shock cycles associated with combustion. Range isn’t much right now, but it’s a heck of a lot better than anything the Wright brothers ever built, and electric flight is still in its infancy, like powered aviation was in the Wrights’ era. In his day, Curtiss had Edison to lobby for him, and aviation, in DC, who does electric flight have today? Us...
 

Victor Bravo

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This is the public comment I left at the FAA or Federal Register portal:

"I strongly support granting this exemption on a "test case" basis, as it represents a timely and important opportunity for FAA, GA industry, local municipal governments, and flight school operators to gather real-world data and operational experience in the commercial use of electric powered aircraft.
This represents an ideal opportunity to conduct the testing in a safe and controlled manner, with an appropriate level of FAA oversight and monitoring. Importantly, this is being proposed in a safe and favorable geographic area that provides numerous safe emergency landing locations (thousands of farm fields), so that potential fire or impact damage to structures and residences is greatly minimized.
This is also an excellent opportunity to demonstrate (or disprove) the economic viability of electric GA operations to reduce the cost of flying for the average pilot, and an opportuity to demonstrate (or disprove) the environmental advantages of electric aircraft (versus avgas) in daily "average" use.
I further believe that this exemption makes sense from an airframe selection and flight safety standpoint; the Pipistrel airframe is proven to be largely safe, and the manufacturer has demonstrated an acceptable quality control system on a nearly identical S-LSA certified version. Even more importantly, the Pipistrel airframe demonstrates excellent power-off glide performance (above average L/D "glide ratio"), allowing it to reach many more and safer emergency landing locations in the event of a power system failure.
I submit that granting the exemption will allow an important step forward in GA technology to be properly and realistically tested, with a high level of safety and a far lower risk level than other approaches. As such, I believe the opportunity presented should be embraced by the FAA as being very well worth the small regulatory, oversight, and administrative burdens."

This comment may be "laying it on pretty thick", but I wanted to force any opposition within the FAA to that there really is a strong reason to support this, whether the test proves or disproves the viability of electric trainers. Anyone and everyone can feel free to plagarize and use any or all of these components or ideas when presenting their own comments.
 

Aerowerx

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An electric aircraft for training is ok, I guess.

But how is the new pilot going to learn how to clear carb ice?

After getting his/her license, not every plane he/she flies is going to be electric, is it? At least not for a long time.
 

Dan Thomas

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An electric aircraft for training is ok, I guess.

But how is the new pilot going to learn how to clear carb ice?

After getting his/her license, not every plane he/she flies is going to be electric, is it? At least not for a long time.
Yup. Carb icing. Leaning for various DA scenarios. Starting a hot injected engine. There are a lot of things to learn with our clunky piston-pounders, and learning to fly in an electric airplane won't even begin to address the complexities of flying legacy IC engines. It might work for the first five hours or so, to get the flight basics, but even then Primacy has made the student tune out the powerplant and he/she will struggle to add it to the process.

It's similar to learning in a tailgragger or trike. A taildragger-trained PPL can master the trike in an hour or less. The trike PPL needs five or ten or maybe more hours to get his head around the different ground behavior.
 

12notes

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An electric aircraft for training is ok, I guess.

But how is the new pilot going to learn how to clear carb ice?

After getting his/her license, not every plane he/she flies is going to be electric, is it? At least not for a long time.
The training will still need some time in a piston plane for the cross country requirements.

Every plane type needs at least a little transition training. Learning to use carb heat is probably an easier transition than flaps. If you forget to turn off carb heat on a go around it'll affect climb a lot less than leaving the flaps at 40 degrees. If you forget to use it when suggested, then, although carb icing is possible, the most likely outcome is that nothing will happen.

I've not had to clear carb ice yet at 350+ hours. I don't know if that's because I've always used it correctly or luck, but it's something that was talked about in training, but no actual practice, as it's not something you'd willingly cause.

There's not just one way to train a safe pilot. And there's no plane that will prepare you for every other plane. Each has it's advantages and disadvantages compared to others.
 
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Aerowerx

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Yup. Carb icing. Leaning for various DA scenarios. Starting a hot injected engine. There are a lot of things to learn with our clunky piston-pounders, and learning to fly in an electric airplane won't even begin to address the complexities of flying legacy IC engines. It might work for the first five hours or so, to get the flight basics, but even then Primacy has made the student tune out the powerplant and he/she will struggle to add it to the process.

It's similar to learning in a tailgragger or trike. A taildragger-trained PPL can master the trike in an hour or less. The trike PPL needs five or ten or maybe more hours to get his head around the different ground behavior.
Read once about a J-3 school in Wisconsin. A 2 week class.

For the final exam they cover up ALL the instruments, and you fly by feel and sound and sight.

How far have we fallen?

I WANT TO FLY THE PLANE, NOT HAVE THE PLANE FLY ME!:mad:
 

Toobuilder

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12 notes -

I understand that there are some use cases that electric flight starts to look reasonable. I'm not against electric flight, per se. If electric aircraft eventually match or overtake the performance of traditional aircraft, I'll be on board for the switch.

Where it goes off the rails for me is the fact that the electric proponents can't seem to resist dropping the greenie buzzwords throughout their supposed technical documentation. Unfortunately, the buzzwords work on today's brainwashed masses, but like I said, such words are a signal to me that the author has an agenda.

I'm a guy who would power my airplane with the tears of clubbed baby seals if it would provide a performance boost, so if you want to convince me of the merits of alternative power, then leave the Eco BS out.
 

Dan Thomas

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Electric is actually more reliable than recips and turbines because the power levels in the batteries are always a known quantity, not like fuel sloshing about in tanks and bladders, even with the best of fuel totalizers installed.
Actually, with piston engines, 90% of engine troubles tend to be electrical. Ignition is a far bigger problem than fuel delivery. In 1969 my high-school Power Mechanics teacher told us that, and I have found that to be absolutely true. Even in modern cars it's the electrical stuff that makes trouble. How often does an engine throw a rod unless it's run out of oil? How often does a valve burn? It's rare. It's the electrical stuff that matters, and all that computerized stuff has had to be built really tough and shielded against interference and sealed against foreign matter intrusion.

The electric motor is indeed simple. One moving part riding in a couple of bearings. But the rest of the system has thousands of connections in the supply and in the electronic controls, and that's where the troubles will arise. Batteries have their own idiosyncrasies as well, no better than fuel sloshing in a tank. The designers will have to take into account all possible effects of atmospheric pressures, ambient and engine temperatures, vibration, heating of the various components, pilot habits, and so on. If they don't, the unforeseen consequences could be very serious.

Determining actual power levels in batteries is difficult. It's inferred from battery voltage, but as the battery ages (or gets cold) that inference becomes pretty inaccurate. Voltage and available amperage are two different things.

I'm not dissing electric airplanes. I just don't want people learning things the hard way like our predecessors did 100 years ago. General aviation is already over-regulated and has a poor public image, and poorly-implemented new technology risks making both of those worse.
 

Dan Thomas

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I've not had to clear carb ice yet at 350+ hours. I don't know if that's because I've always used it correctly or luck, but it's something that was talked about in training, but no actual practice, as it's not something you'd willingly cause.
You will have had carb ice several times in your 350 hours, but it's often minimal and temporary so it goes unnoticed. But it can get you unexpectedly if it continues to build unnoticed. Some pilots just keep pusing the throttle in further to try to keep the RPM up, not realizing that ice is building. I've seen that on the ramp on a sunny summer morning right after startup; the engine doesn't want to idle so the pilot opens the throttle some. It's ice forming already. I used to go out when I heard the engine doing that and have the student or instructor pull the carb heat and watch the tach. Their eyes would get big.

Carb ice continues to claim a lot of airplanes. By some estimates it's the biggest cause of power loss resulting in accidents. And that is entirely due to lousy training. I used to get my students to check the weather before the flight, then ask them if the conditions were right for carb ice. Wanted to see if they were paying attention to the temp/dewpoint spread.
 

BJC

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I'm a guy who would power my airplane with the tears of clubbed baby seals if it would provide a performance boost, so if you want to convince me of the merits of alternative power, then leave the Eco BS out.
My understanding is that prior attempts to use injected tears for detonation control worked well, but the salt component caused corrosion problems.

I totally discount any “alternative energy” document that refers to Watts as a quantity of energy.


BJC
 

Victor Bravo

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Baby seals and Eco BS, eh? I'm contacting Amazon Drone Division immediately and cancelling your delivery of Go Bernie! bumper stickers.

On balance, if showing publicly that aviation is at least trying to adopt or investigate "cleaner" technology, and trying not to be the smarmy yacht club one-percenters that everyone seems to think we are... that's a good thing to me.

I agree that the public is spoon-fed a lot of nonsense, but those same public folk are the ones who vote on whether to tax aviation out of existence, or vote into office the people who will do that as a PR move "for the masses". So how we appear to them is important whether we like it or not.

If powering our airplanes with coal-fired powerplants belching clouds of black smoke will make people think that we're not trying to pollute the skies with leaded avgas and black smoke - then all that means is that we at least have a spoon to wield in this spoon-fight.

The only thing more un-American than a public disinformation campaign is when the other ghuy has one and you don't.
 

tspear

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Yup. Carb icing. Leaning for various DA scenarios. Starting a hot injected engine. There are a lot of things to learn with our clunky piston-pounders, and learning to fly in an electric airplane won't even begin to address the complexities of flying legacy IC engines. It might work for the first five hours or so, to get the flight basics, but even then Primacy has made the student tune out the powerplant and he/she will struggle to add it to the process.

It's similar to learning in a tailgragger or trike. A taildragger-trained PPL can master the trike in an hour or less. The trike PPL needs five or ten or maybe more hours to get his head around the different ground behavior.
You have to spend 5-10 hours learning a TW regardless if you do it first or last. Having done anecdotal questions to multiple CFIs; TW takes longer to get PPL than Trike. This is just a matter of having more "stuff" to learn. Total time to learn both ends up being a wash.
Note: I never bother getting a TW endorsement (yet). It is on the bucket list. But TW is becoming more and more rare.

Same thing for carb heat. I have about 5 hours in planes with carb heat; I have only being flying fuel injected aircraft.... And these are the growing percentage of the fleet. Carbs are a shrinking percentage of the fleet.

Tim
 
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