Air Travel Stories June 17, 2016

NASA today unveiled plans to spend the next decade working on electric planes under the ‘X-57’ moniker. The X-Plane program has traditionally been used by NASA to further aviation so this is a big deal more than just a pet project or some 3D renders.

P2006T_GenView

petrol version

The plane which is also called ‘Maxwell’ to honor James Clerk Maxwell, the 19th century Scottish physicist who did groundbreaking work in electromagnetism, will be based on the Italian Tecnam P2006T, a very efficient 4 seat light aircraft (pictured above). NASA will do away with the wing and petrol engines and replace them with a super-efficient thinner wing and 14 electric motors. The smaller 12 motors will only be used for takeoffs and what we can probably assume is regen during landings. The larger 2 engines on the end of the wings will propel the plane during cruising which is expected to be a solid 175mph. The Tecnam has retractable wheels and a 1500-foot take off distance which should make it a good base for an EV makeover.

There are a lot of things to unpack here… expand full story

Air Travel Stories June 9, 2016

Earlier this year, we wrote a profile on an interesting startup, Zee Aero, developing a battery-powered vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft near Google’s X lab. The company caught our attention when it started hiring talent from NASA, Tesla and Stanford.

At the time, we couldn’t confirm where the money was coming from, but today we learn that Alphabet’s billionaire CEO Larry Page is secretively behind the electric aircraft startup, reportedly financing it with over $100 million, and even setting up a competing startup, Kitty Hawk, to test another model.

The group’s proximity with Google led a lot of people to believe it was financed by the tech giant, but in fact, Page is financing the initiative himself and not through Alphabet or Google Ventures.  expand full story

Air Travel Stories March 2, 2016

A startup operating mostly in stealth mode for the past 6 years has been developing a very interesting battery-powered vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, which could potentially be described as a “flying car”.

Just over two years ago, some early prototypes were spotted at the company’s facility near Google’s X lab, now called the Moonshot factory, which sparked speculation that Google was financing the project. Not much was known about the company then, but we did some research after finding out that it went on a recent hiring spree and we are now bringing you the most up-to-date report on this promising project.

Zee Aero was founded by Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford and former NASA Researcher at Ames Ilan Kroo. He recruited a surprising number of students and colleagues from both organisations to launch his startup, which looks more ready than ever to debut its aircraft.

We’ve heard about flying cars supposedly coming to market for years now. It appears to be one of those “always in the lab” technology and although the term “flying car” could potentially apply to what Zee is working on considering the vehicle is shown in patent applications literally parked in an average looking parking space, simply looking at it as an aircraft is more useful here. Especially considering its differentiating features are almost as impressive on an aircraft as it would be on a car, namely its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capacity and more importantly, the fact that it’s powered by a battery pack. expand full story

Air Travel Stories September 7, 2015

Test flight of manned aerial battery-powered multi-rotor drone [Video]

A youtuber (gasturbine101) built a manned drone prototype powered by 54 rotors equipped with small battery packs. He posted a video of a 6 minute test flight last week. 

Air Travel Stories July 13, 2015

Airbus accomplished an historic exploit last week when their E-Fan concept, a manned electric plane, crossed the English Channel to be the first battery powered plane to do so, 106 years after Louis Blériot made the first crossing with his monoplane. The 37 minute flight itself might not seem that impressive, but considering the current state of electric propulsion, it is a hopeful glimpse into the future of electric air transport. expand full story

Air Travel Stories November 20, 2013

Google is also looking into this type of transport.

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