# Help Promote Electric Aviation

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#### tspear

##### Well-Known Member
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.
How much planned MX does that electrical system have in the Porsche? Basically, electrical systems are rarely if ever maintained in cars. So of course when they break, they are going to be an issue.
Think about it; the vast majority of the maintenance on a piston engine is "regular/scheduled" maintenance dealing with mechanical systems. The vast majority of exceptions are known mechanical failures; water pump, radiators, oil pumps....

There is a reason why a lot of economists are predicting a new industry to replace the interior of a car since the EV power train will outlast the interior by a significant margin. While in an ICE, they tend go go around the same time (in general). At the same time, the economists and math models are predicting massive loss of mechanics due to a lack of work for them to perform on an EV.
The same will apply to electric airplanes.

Tim

#### Vigilant1

##### Well-Known Member
My perception is that most normal people just think of little airplanes as little airplanes, not "clean" or "dirty."
When someone comes along hawking a new (expensive) airplane as "clean," then increasingly my little airplane may be seen as "dirty." I don't think that helps me. And I don't think it helps GA, since the pressure builds to make all GA planes "clean" despite 1) they are no dirtier than they have always been and contribute a trifling amount of polution in comparison to other things and 2) these "clean" airplanes can't do 98% of the things people want to do with GA airplanes.
I'm not against this petition, but the way they are selling it is not honest and won't get my support. They label this is as "sustainable", so what does that make my plane? Nope, thanks.

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#### Toobuilder

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
That's a reasonable possiblity...

"Clean" airplanes are implemented and gain a measure of success, though still a long way from meeting current capabilities. Pressure then mounts to eliminate the legacy "dirty" airplanes. Of course the general public won't understand the various mission profiles of GA aircraft and wont care. If one little electric airplane can fly around the pattern for an hour, that's good enough for them all. Legacy aircraft are then removed from the mainstream transportation infrastructure and relegated to hobby status, just like classic cars.

Pushing the "green" propaganda will undoubtedly work in the short term, but might be a step back for GA in the medium term.

#### Pops

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
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!

That is the way I was taught. Cover the instrument panel up with a sheet and go do spot landing on the runway in right and left patterns. Feel, sound and sight.

Have had carb ice 3 times in the air and several times on the ground before take-off.

For a tri-gear pilot getting a tailwheel endorsement, its like getting your PP license, just a starting point and freedom to learn.

#### Jerry Lytle

##### Well-Known Member
It has been a longtime time passing, Glad I hadn't known it takes ten to twelve hours to graduate to a tail dragger. I got my license in a Cessna 150. I couldn't afford rental rates, so I bought a Taylorcraft and just flew it, take offs were optional landings were required. T-craft was followed by a Champ, then a Cessna 170A.
Was the difference because back then most cars had stick shifts?

#### cheapracer

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
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.
Yeah, how about just making simpler, cheaper entry level aircraft.

I don't see how EV aircraft are going to be cheaper btw, and there's still a major headache of no infrastructure for charging them at airfields.

They may claim 40 minutes charge (for 40 minutes flying that is), but that's on a Supercharger, for many at airfields it will be 8 to 12 hours on a 110V wall socket if available. So you're not going to fly for a hamburger and get back again on the same day for many.

#### 12notes

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
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.
A good part of the reason that cars don't have the mechanical damage is the sensors and electronics that shut the car down before that damage occurs (obviously, in aircraft you'd modify the response as needed). Yes, we get electronic problems too, but the reliability of cars has gone up so much because of the electronics, not despite them.

All the catastrophic mechanical engine failures I have personal knowledge of in the last 5 years have been aircraft engines, including a cylinder trying to remove itself from my club's aircraft in flight. They were all carburetor & magneto equipped, non-electronicly managed engines. I know way more people with cars than planes, and even those with planes use their cars at least 10x as much. Mechanical engine failures that I personally know about over 5 years ago were pretty much all racing engines.

Electric motors do not build up and discharge 15,000-30,000V multiple times per second. The associated electronics require much less shielding than a system with magnetos or coils.

You are vastly overestimating the number of connections in an electric propulsion system. There are not anywhere even remotely close to "thousands" of connections, a minimum system can be done with less than 30 individual wires. If you're counting components on a circuit board, it's still less than thousands. And even if there were, so what? Is there really a reliability problem with electronics? Because I'm still using a 30 year off-brand old boom box in the garage, driving a 29 year old EFI car with the original wiring harness and electronics, and never had a non-software or physical damage related issue with a cell phone.

Here's the Panasonic 18650 datasheet, the most common lithium ion battery. It is not difficult to determine battery power levels. There are charts of temperature based performance. There are degradation charts based on cycles and age. There are sensors and performance logs that can be automatically kept. It's not a mystery. This is just the first result on google. More detailed data is easy to acquire, and can be built into the battery gauge.

Piston engine power decreases with age and use as well, maybe Lycoming or Continental do provide them, but I've not seen charts or data for this.

Batteries and electric motors are not "new" technology, and I've yet to see ANY proof or even a slight hint that this Pipistrel is "poorly-implemented". This isn't a Kickstarter funded pipe dream based on magic and hope, it's a technology that is older and much more widely implemented than internal combustion engines being used by an established aircraft company on an existing airframe. There are ways to screw up either power system, but there's a lot more ways to poorly implement an ICE than an electric motor, many more ways to screw up the necessary routine maintenance on an ICE, and more ways to screw up the operation of an ICE. Pipistrel has some very knowledgeable people who have thought this out quite a bit better than what is being portrayed.

Battery technology is not where it needs to be for 99% of GA. It's not likely to be there for decades. But at the moment, electric vehicles are the future we're headed towards, as that's pretty much it for practical renewable energy in vehicles. There are alternatives, but they've all got massive problems (i.e. Fuel cells need high pressure storage tanks in vehicles plus an entire network of refueling and storage construction built). Batteries are improving at a slow, but steady rate. Electric vehicles can be recharged by pretty much any electricity source. They are fitting into our system now without massive infrastructure changes. They are the rational next step. We're at an appropriate time for the first commercial forays into it, and these companies are far from unreliable, fly-by-night operations, they're well thought out and have workable business plans to operate at a profit.

#### bmcj

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Think about it; the vast majority of the maintenance on a piston engine is "regular/scheduled" maintenance dealing with mechanical systems. The vast majority of exceptions are known mechanical failures; water pump, radiators, oil pumps..
Ahhhh, not always the case.... remember Lucas, Prince of Darkness?

#### BoKu

##### Pundit
HBA Supporter
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.
This is a case where perfect is the enemy of better:

* The constraints on electric propulsion drive airframe and power solutions towards greater efficiency than their combustion counterparts.

* Energy generated from fossil fuels can be more efficient and less polluting than that generated on-site because fixed generating stations are not limited by weight constraints.

* While perhaps only some energy delivered to electric-powered aircraft is generated from renewable sources, virtually no energy delivered to combustion-powered aircraft comes from renewable sources.

#### Hephaestus

##### Well-Known Member
They may claim 40 minutes charge (for 40 minutes flying that is), but that's on a Supercharger, for many at airfields it will be 8 to 12 hours on a 110V wall socket if available. So you're not going to fly for a hamburger and get back again on the same day for many.
You'd be surprised... One of the big tow companies here has a big diesel towed tesla spec supercharger... 100$will get you a full charge in an hour or so. Like the cars infrastructure will follow, your AME probably has a 240v 20amp plug for the welder - wont take him long to figure out plugging in by request for an hour can earn him a hundred$ or so...

Actually airport I fuel at most I know the fuel pump is 240v... So powers already out there...

#### Vigilant1

##### Well-Known Member
We're at an appropriate time for the first commercial forays into it, and these companies are far from unreliable, fly-by-night operations, they're well thought out and have workable business plans to operate at a profit.
If they'd based their application on just the operational ,economic , or even the safety advantages of this power source for this application, that would be fine. And that should be all that the FAA is concerned with. But, they are waiving the "sustainable," "green," "clean" flag, and that's where things go off the rails, IMO. What has that got to do with this request for a waiver? The environmental cudgel has been wielded to do a lot of indiscriminate damage, and I'm not interested in encouraging its use in this area.

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#### 12notes

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
If they'd based their application on just the operational ,economic , or even the safety advantages of this power source for this application, that would be fine. And that should be all that the FAA is concerned with. But, they are waiving the "sustainable," "green," "clean" flag, and that's where things go off the rails, IMO. What has that got to do with this request for a waiver? The environmental cudgel has been wielded to do a lot of indescriminate damage, and I'm not interested in encouraging its use in this area.
It is sustainable, and actually more green and clean than piston or turbine engines due to the electricity source in the Fresno area they are based in (see my previous post). I'm sorry you think those are bad words, but they are actually positives. One of the items a petition for exemption must contain is "How your request would benefit the public as a whole". Sustainable, green, and clean would certainly qualifies for this - if this was ever included anywhere, but it was not.

You are criticizing them for using the terms clean, green and sustainable, but if you bothered to read the original post, the linked main article, or actual petition, you may have noticed that NEITHER CLEAN NOR GREEN ARE MENTIONED IN ANY OF IT. Sustainable is in the title of the project and that's it. Their project has the stated goal of "Making flight training affordable through the use of all-electric aircraft". The petition itself has the only mention of anything environmental, and that's reduced emissions (including lead) within the San Joaquin Valley, which is objectively true. It's item #5 of the 6 public benefits listed.

In short, they are clearly NOT waving any clean, green, sustainable flag. They mention the environment exactly once, fairly deep into their application. You are protesting a fiction of your own creation, and does not have any bearing on reality.

#### Toobuilder

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
The project title is "Sustainable", which we all know is a result of "greenie" marketing. And "lead reduction" only ocurrs if these electric airplanes REPLACE the gas burners. I'll certainly support any initiative that adds more airplanes to the GA fleet, but if the goal is to push out the existing models, then consider me an opponent.

Thanks for bringing this point up - I will renew my interest and make sure my opinion is heard.

#### Aerowerx

##### Well-Known Member
.... a big diesel towed tesla spec supercharger... ...

ROFL

Move to Ohio and it can be coal powered!

Think I will get one of those cheap Harbor Freight generators made in China. Then stick a sign out front: "Charge your batteries here!"

#### Dan Thomas

##### Well-Known Member
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
When I was an instructor, it usually took 12-15 hours to reach solo in the trike. When we had a lot of students we started some, from zero, in the Citabrias, and it took them 12-15 hours to solo.

Part of the taildragger conversion training is unlearning the stuff the trike taught you, and learning what your feet are for. That adds time.

Another anecdotal source for you.

#### Dan Thomas

##### Well-Known Member
Was the difference because back then most cars had stick shifts?
Possibly. Manual transmissions, chokes, stuff that made a driver think some.

I soloed my first taildragger after maybe two hours of dual. Was never able solo any of my students that soon, though some were getting close. After we'd had a couple of low-time TW students damage the airplanes, we had to implement a minimum 7-hour dual time and make sure they got crosswind, bounce and swerve recovery training with it.

#### Dan Thomas

##### Well-Known Member
They may claim 40 minutes charge (for 40 minutes flying that is), but that's on a Supercharger, for many at airfields it will be 8 to 12 hours on a 110V wall socket if available. So you're not going to fly for a hamburger and get back again on the same day for many.
Or a fossil-fueled generator for charging. Ha.

#### Aerowerx

##### Well-Known Member
Or a fossil-fueled generator for charging. Ha.

I looked up "Irony" in the dictionary, and they had that picture!

#### Toobuilder

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
The only way that picture would be better is if there was black soot spewing from the exhaust stack on the generator.

... Oh! And the battery pack in the car was on fire!

#### Dan Thomas

##### Well-Known Member
All the catastrophic mechanical engine failures I have personal knowledge of in the last 5 years have been aircraft engines, including a cylinder trying to remove itself from my club's aircraft in flight. They were all carburetor & magneto equipped, non-electronicly managed engines. I know way more people with cars than planes, and even those with planes use their cars at least 10x as much. Mechanical engine failures that I personally know about over 5 years ago were pretty much all racing engines.

You are vastly overestimating the number of connections in an electric propulsion system. There are not anywhere even remotely close to "thousands" of connections, a minimum system can be done with less than 30 individual wires. If you're counting components on a circuit board, it's still less than thousands. And even if there were, so what? Is there really a reliability problem with electronics?
I was an aircraft mechanic for a long time, and encountered exactly one catastrophic failure that couldn't be blamed on either the pilot or an engine overhauler. And that was a swallowed valve that let the pilot bring the airplane home. Cylinders that try to blow off the case have been overpressured by ham-handed operation or by using the wrong fuel.

Yes, lots of connections on a circuit board, and I have repaired failed circuit boards and am familiar with the various ways that can achieve that. There are also connections within the components themselves that fail. Those are lots of fun to diagnose if the component hasn't smoked itself.

Racing engines are vastly overworked things and are expected to fail occasionally. If I ran my aircraft engine at 4500 RPM with the ignition advanced 45 degrees to double its horsepower, it would explode, too.

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