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Transportation Technology

Big Buzz For $60,000 Electric Flight Prize 78

gilgsn writes "Electric Light Sport Aircraft are sprouting up all over. Now that the Experimental Aircraft Association is offering a 60,000 prize for the best ones, manufacturers are gearing up for the competition to be held the last week in July, at AirVenture 2011 in Oshkosh, 'The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration.' Airplanes will be tested for endurance, speed and time-to-climb. Pilots, charge up your batteries.."
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Big Buzz For $60,000 Electric Flight Prize

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  • Fo? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @05:52PM (#35592476)

    Fo sho?
    Or perhaps the editor meant "for".

  • They should have been more clear and had it something like this:

    BONG BONG son! sitty stacks fo lectric planes kid.
  • Fo' Sho' Brotha! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I didn't realize Slashdot is now offered in Ebonics.
  • by kurt555gs ( 309278 ) <kurt555gs@ov i . c om> on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:03PM (#35592602) Homepage

    Switched reluctance motors and Toshiba SCiB batteries.

    As of today, there is no way to do it better. [] []

    Just sayin'

    • how about-- how much of the battery is depleted on takeoff?

      could you power takeoff through induction instead of on-board batteries, then switch to the batteries for level flight?

      just unroll a mother of a long coil down the side of the takeoff path...


    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      I found this more informative on the reluctance motor []. Of course you would still want to incorporate solar panels on the top surfaces of the wings just to get that bit of extra free energy into the system, especially if done properly as the wing surface so no additional weight. Add to that an inflatable aircraft [] (using hydrogen or helium) and away you go.

  • Doesn't this seem like this will give explanation to many UFO sightings and/or attract unnamed government agencies eager to arrest many amateur aviation enthusiasts?
  • The idea sounds great. We'll save energy, have less noise, and we'll all be happy. It's sort of a "we'll have our cake, and eat it too!"

    The problem is, it takes a lot of energy to power an aircraft. While a car engine runs at only a very small percentage of its rated power most of time, aircraft engines run at 60% or 70% of full power all the time. We need to store a lot more energy per unit time than we do for a car, and more energy per unit energy source weight. So far, petroleum products store more en

    • It comes down to efficiency, and energy management.

      The limit in the energy capacity for current battery technology (vs weight) simply means we need to push for far more efficient airframes.

      Nobody is suggesting smacking an electric engine on the front of a Cessna 150 is going to work well, because the energy to push a brick through the air is just to much.

      Composite materials, highly streamlined, slippery as hell, fancy stuff like reflex flaps, long thin glider inspired wings... an extremely efficient aircraf

      • by 517714 ( 762276 )

        Burt Rutan has this if he wants it.

        There's not much time until the competition so something new is out of the question, but I think there a suitable starting point for several of the records in the Model 76 Voyager []. It could carry 3 tons of batteries and needs about 100 hp. How long would 6,000 lb of lithium batteries last running a 100 hp motor?

        Another choice would be the GlobalFlyer [].

        • Roughly (3000kg * [100..250]Wh/kg) / (100hp * 750W/hp) = [4..10]h

          Take the lower limit to account for inefficiencies, packaging,...

      • Tell Burt Rutan about this. He seems to do well in design.
        • Burt Rutan had comments about this at last year's EAA Convention.
          He recommended that the next step be an electric plane with a special purpose design for doing aerobatics in air shows.
          A standard act is only about 15 minutes, which is within the current practical power design restrictions.
          Burt stated that propeller drives didn't need to be only put on the front or back of the plane inline with the forward motion. Smaller propellers with motors could be put on the wing tips and/or tail to create unique aeroba

    • Install an APU, an Inverter and an electric motor. Win every event. You'd have to in order to pay for the APU.

      I'm sure they thought of that, the sight is /.ed so I can't tell for sure.

      • From the official rules:

        B. Eligibility

        The Prize is open to any legal aircraft that has an electric propulsion system and is capable of being flown by a 200 pound pilot.

        Entrants must first submit a completed application form, received no later than July 1, 2011. Formal acceptance into the contest will be made in writing by EAA, following review of your application. A maximum of 12 (twelve) entries will be accepted.

        Each competitor will be expected to carry liability insurance, and will be asked to sig

        • Except that a hybrid design makes a lot less sense in an airplane than in a car, where you can recover braking energy etc. In a plane, the point would be moot. Even a setup like the Chevy Volt wouldn't have much potential, since airplane engines typically run in their most effective range anyway.

          Oh, wait, you were just talking about gaming the contest, not doing anything actually useful... Well, i guess the rules are always open to interpretation by the judges, especially as "electric propulsion system" ca

          • The time you most need horsepower, on a traditional aircraft, is during takeoff. Lose the engine at altitude and you have some time to figure out where you're coming down. Lose it on takeoff and, well, you better think fast.

            A Light Sport Aircraft is limited in the amount of horsepower it can produce, the max speed in level flight and the range. It doesn't say anything about takeoff performance.

            Use a small, lightweight, relatively weak Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) with an electric motor/generator
          • This whole contest doesn't do anything 'actually useful' so WTF is your point?

            My point was and remains that chemical fuel, engine, generator combinations are still the most energy dense sources of electric power.

            Build an airplane on the Diesel locomotive model and you would win this contest if you can rule-lawyer your way in.

  • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:19PM (#35592770)
    "Now that the Experimental Aircraft Association is offering a 60,000 prize for the best ones"

    The prize is 60,000? Really? That's not hard, here's a 60,000 just for asking, and i can offer a lot more than that. How about 600,000? Or 6,000,000? Really i can sit here and hold the "0" key down all day, so you can have as big of an integer as you want. (Though at a certain point i might have to switch to scientific notation.)
    • The prize guarantees a modest (or, really, minimal) return on investment, and adds an element of competition to the overall goal. The X prize and lunar X-prizes are no different. Those prizes don't come remotely close to allowing a company to recoup what was invested to (or eventually, in the case of the Lunar X-prize) reach the goal. However, winning the prize ensures a little bit more publicity and some bragging rights for the folks who win.

      Look at it this way: The Lombardi trophy (the trophy teams are aw

      • by Anonymous Coward

        GP's point is 60,000 != 60,000 USD; the exchange rate between USD and NULL is undefined...

    • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

      My daughter won "Best of show" at the local fair for her gorgeous photography. She competed against tens of thousands of participants, almost none of whom spent less on the picture frame than the $10 won in prize money.

      As a private pilot familiar with experimental aviation, I can say that the money is not the point. EA types will spend 2 years tweaking a plane to fly 10 knots faster with the same fuel burn rate and payload, or provides a 50 pound payload improvement, etc.

      It's mostly about establishing wheth

      • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
        You are very correct. Absolutely everyone spent more money than 60,000. You're probably also right that a lot of them spent more $60,000. So i sure hope they're not doing it for the money, since if they were i could offer them a much better deal. I'd give them 120,000 for their $60,000. They'd probably take me up on it, since 2 is more than $1 right?
    • Scientific notation? Oh come now, this is Slash Dot.
  • The future of aviation is nuclear. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

  • by jwold ( 124863 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:36PM (#35593580)

    Besides this EAA Electric Airplane [] prize, there's 3 more that I know of:
    - The biggest purse is the CAFE foundation Green Flight Challenge [] $1.6M Presented at Airventure [] in Oshkosh this July
    - The Lindberg Electric Aircraft prize [] is an annual prize that started last year at Oshkosh
    - The Berblinger prize [] 3 weeks from now in Germany

    Not just for cool RC model airplanes any more. E-flight is on the rise - the first killer app will be UAV's and motorgliders.

  • Now we'll have more airplanes "landing" on US 41 and other random farm fields during that week.

  • This plane has been revised this year: []Taurus Electro Comes with a trailer with battery storage and solar pannels on the roof.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling