Battery-Powered Plane Completes First Test Flight in Australia

Tsumi

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Mar 18, 2010
Messages
13,240
OK so many are worried about range etc etc etc. This version of the plane is going to be specifically used to fly from "Perth" in WA to Rottenest Island. A 25 minute ferry ride. A distance of around 34km (21 miles) . In the Video it shows the plane traveling at around 145 kph and a range of 280 kms. Think it has more than enough range. A 1 hour flight time should be definitely more than enough safety margin for this situation. Obviously this is all about proving the concept and only actually using it will allow them to move on to bigger things.
145 km/h is much worse than I thought. That's only about 90 mph. For any type of land distance travel, a car will take less time (assuming a not too circuituous route) once you factor in wait times. Heck, a Tesla would be more efficient and faster while being able to carry more people and cargo. Air travel is the least efficient of transportation forms, with the only benefit being speed.

Even considering water routes, it makes no sense. The fastest ferry is capable of up to 107 km/h, nearly negating any speed advantages of the plane, while offering much greater capacity. Over 1000 passengers, the capacity of two jumbo jets, and 150 cars, and a range of at least 150 miles.

This does not excite me: the charging time and flight times make it inconvenient. I would have liked to see solar panels on the wings, so long as they are efficient enough to extend flight time.
I do not see this replacing cars to ease traffic congestion because you still need an airport to takeoff/ land.

I think the real thing in aviation that could change the way we commute will be VTOL- basically drones for humans. VTOL would eliminate the need for airports in the case of daily commutes and have been working on increased battery range using current technology.
High speed flight (anything above 100 mph) simply consumes too much power for solar power to make a difference.

VTOL (drone, aka helicopters) are extremely inefficient. A fixed wing craft has greater range with the same amount of fuel and overall weight.
 

J-Will

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jan 10, 2009
Messages
1,724
There are always going to be trade offs, but if the idea of this aircraft is battery powered and can only achieve short flight times, then VTOL is going to be a better option when it comes to daily commutes and safety.
 

kju1

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 27, 2002
Messages
3,058
There are always going to be trade offs, but if the idea of this aircraft is battery powered and can only achieve short flight times, then VTOL is going to be a better option when it comes to daily commutes and safety.
VTOL? No its not. It costs 2-3 times more energy to take off with VTOL and easily 2x-4x the acquisition cost (systems are a lot more complicated). More moving parts means more maintenance. More maintenance means more cost.

Also its a lot harder to handle which will mean more accidents. What do you do when the battery dies or engine quits? Helos have autorotate...which means you come down HARD. Airplanes glide in which makes for a softer landing (hopefully). If you're using that for commutes Id want the safer option...

As much as I love aviation its just not efficient, even with batteries, for daily commutes.
 

J-Will

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jan 10, 2009
Messages
1,724
It costs 2-3 times more energy to take off with VTOL
maybe but not when you factor in having to drive to airport, taxi to takeoff, taxi after landing and drive to final destination. Furthermore, a VTOL aircraft's wings will be designed for flight only as opposed to takeoff and landing as well as flight.

and easily 2x-4x the acquisition cost (systems are a lot more complicated). More moving parts means more maintenance. More maintenance means more cost.
Stipulated that the cost of a VTOL aircraft and the aircraft's maintenance will be more than current/ traditional aircraft designs outfitted with electric motor(s) using cargo capacity as a method to class aircraft.

Also its a lot harder to handle which will mean more accidents. What do you do when the battery dies or engine quits? Helos have autorotate...which means you come down HARD. Airplanes glide in which makes for a softer landing (hopefully).
Again, for the purposes of a daily commute, the goal of the VTOL projects I've seen have these safety issues in mind (shutes cant work at the altitude these are designed to fly). Uber has the most publicity around their project: https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/25/u...demand-vtol-demo-flights-in-dallas-and-dubai/


I get it though, VTOL at the consumer level is still new, at a more theoretical level when going up again tried and true conventions. I guess all I am saying is that VTOL excites me more than a battery powered plane that has a run time similar to the times VTOL aircraft are supposed to play in.
 

Tsumi

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Mar 18, 2010
Messages
13,240
VTOL? No its not. It costs 2-3 times more energy to take off with VTOL and easily 2x-4x the acquisition cost (systems are a lot more complicated). More moving parts means more maintenance. More maintenance means more cost.

Also its a lot harder to handle which will mean more accidents. What do you do when the battery dies or engine quits? Helos have autorotate...which means you come down HARD. Airplanes glide in which makes for a softer landing (hopefully). If you're using that for commutes Id want the safer option...

As much as I love aviation its just not efficient, even with batteries, for daily commutes.
Handling shouldn't be a concern because by that point, you would want everything to be computer controlled. It's hard enough for people to keep track of vehicles in 2D at 60 mph on a designated roadway, 3D at 100+ with no visual path would be a disaster waiting to happen.
 

kju1

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 27, 2002
Messages
3,058
maybe but not when you factor in having to drive to airport, taxi to takeoff, taxi after landing and drive to final destination. Furthermore, a VTOL aircraft's wings will be designed for flight only as opposed to takeoff and landing as well as flight.
Its still not going to be cheaper than driving. And it will still be more expensive as flying is today. The average American commutes 15 miles to work. Flying, electric or gas, costs about 5x what driving does. The costs for taxi/takeoff are negligible. Maybe 2 gallons of avgas or about $10. Congrats VOTL eliminated $10 by spending $30 in extra "fuel" to do it. We could go through the math if you like.


Again, for the purposes of a daily commute, the goal of the VTOL projects I've seen have these safety issues in mind (shutes cant work at the altitude these are designed to fly). Uber has the most publicity around their project: https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/25/u...demand-vtol-demo-flights-in-dallas-and-dubai/
Yes parachutes, more specifically BRS systems, can work as low as about 300 feet. Ubers goals are laudable but it wont be as cheap as a regular taxi/uber/lyft. There is simply too much energy required to lift something off the ground vertically or horizontally when compared with just pushing/pulling. They cannot, and will not, be able to bypass regulators as well which will add enormously to the cost. Unless they plan to use an existing platform (which it doesn't look like) they have more like 10+ years to go before bringing this to market.


I get it though, VTOL at the consumer level is still new, at a more theoretical level when going up again tried and true conventions. I guess all I am saying is that VTOL excites me more than a battery powered plane that has a run time similar to the times VTOL aircraft are supposed to play in.
VTOL is not new at the consumer level. Its "niche" or i.e. helicopters which are VTOL aircraft. Hybrid, as in what urber is looking at, ARE new at consumer level and will be a long time coming. Adding in electric will only delay that.

Handling shouldn't be a concern because by that point, you would want everything to be computer controlled. It's hard enough for people to keep track of vehicles in 2D at 60 mph on a designated roadway, 3D at 100+ with no visual path would be a disaster waiting to happen.
We dont even half cars that can do this and you expect us to allow the average person to do this in the air? Autopilots can be very complication and skilled but yeah...I dont think thats gonna happen for a long time.


Given how its expensive to fly, not just because of the fuel, I just dont see flying becoming a daily commute option for anyone except the wealthy. Thats not even considering all the other issues like weather, damage in parking lots etc. There is so much more here that I could spend hours telling you how this is a bad idea within the next 10+ years. Dont get me wrong - I would LOVE to fly daily...I am a pilot after all...but realistically? Not going to happen without a major change in tech that would be more than just an electric engine. It would have to be revolutionary.
 

Mohonri

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 29, 2005
Messages
5,748
Given how its expensive to fly, not just because of the fuel, I just dont see flying becoming a daily commute option for anyone except the wealthy. Thats not even considering all the other issues like weather, damage in parking lots etc. There is so much more here that I could spend hours telling you how this is a bad idea within the next 10+ years. Dont get me wrong - I would LOVE to fly daily...I am a pilot after all...but realistically? Not going to happen without a major change in tech that would be more than just an electric engine. It would have to be revolutionary.
You're right about flying being more expensive. For those who haven't looked as much into it, flying is expensive for a number of reasons:
1) aircraft do not benefit from the economies of scale that you see with cars. So even non-certified aircraft are expensive new.
2) aircraft use more fuel than cars of equivalent carrying capacity, and typically use more expensive fuel (100LL), although there seems to be an increasing trend in aircraft engines that take regular gasoline
3) certification for parts and entire aircraft is super expensive. The regulatory red tape is tremendous.

This is all besides the factors like how much training is required, having access to an airport, larger parking area for most aircraft, all the extra time spent in pre-flight, etc.
 

N4CR

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Oct 17, 2011
Messages
4,464
I think we are very close to the revolution. Electric motors are at a good place. Battery tech is acceptable.

But we really need is a small generator to bring this all together.

If we had a small form factor generator that could produce a lot of energy in a small, safe package, then we would be set. Something like a personal nuclear reactor. It could toggle off an on, charging up the battery which acts as a capacitor to offer smooth discharge to the motor. Then you would not have the ridiculous range anxiety of the battery.

I think that the goal of creating batteries with massive storage may not be the right goal right now. We need to come up with something that CREATES power in a small package. Taking an energy source that starts very small and expanding it, and using the battery to contain that expansion.

Think of it right now. We store energy in gasoline. And internal combustion motor expands that energy and it gets applied to the wheels in real time. 1 gallon of gas can give 30-40 miles of distance. But we can't save any of that energy (KERS is not a consumer product yet). With an electric system we could store energy in a small nuclear plant (or something functionally similar). expand it with a reactor and then save nearly all of it to a battery. Then use the energy as needed. I see this as the solution to the problem. Having wires embedded in the roads, I don't think is practical enough a solution.
Electric motors are still quite heavy, especially when considering power density/volume Vs piston and jet engines.
Eg an LT4 V8 smokes a electric motor in this comparison. You could run two v8s for the weight of a typical comparable electric motor setup (high end 9 second drag car or below etc)..
 
Top