These days it seems everyone is talking about electric and hybrid drives, including general aviation manufacturers. At AERO Friedrichshafen, slated for April 8-11, 2010, the latest environmentally-friendly alternative engine technologies, many of which have developed well beyond the prototype stage and are ready to go into production, will be showcased.
The first aircraft powered by electric motors are already flying in the U.S., China and European countries. There are already plans for the large-scale production of a number of different types of these innovative aircraft.
Aircraft that are solely dependent upon electric power are still limited by the capacity of rechargeable batteries and their weight. This has prompted German manufacturer Flight Design to adopt a novel approach. The company has taken a 114-hp internal combustion engine and combined it with a 40-hp electric motor. During takeoff and when climbing, this provides virtually the same amount of power as a conventional 180-hp engine produced in the U.S. But there is a difference: This modern hybrid drive is lighter and more fuel-efficient and can run on lead-free car fuel, instead of leaded avgas.
Diesel engines also are expected to attract a lot of attention at AERO 2010, including those from Germany’s Centurion Engines, the Austrian manufacturer Austro Engines and France’s SMA. Depending on their certification, these engines can run either on normal diesel or on kerosene, which is available at airports around the world. Other manufacturers of diesel engines – primarily in the area of ultralight and experimental aircraft – are already conducting tests and plan to present their products at AERO 2010, air show officials note.
As the industry enters the new millennium, GA engines will have to meet the demand for quiet, fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly operation. These requirements are also met by fuel cell technology. This year the German Aerospace Center’s research aircraft Antares H2 – a plane based on a motor glider – made the world’s first hydrogen-powered flight. And in August, an ultralight was used to reproduce the legendary English Channel flight by Louis Blériot – the difference being that today’s aircraft was powered by an electric motor, which was fueled by a hydrogen tank. This emissions-free technology is still in the embryonic stages, but developments are moving at a rapid pace and the initial results of a number of test flights for various aircraft will be presented at AERO 2010.
The E-Flight-Expo, which was jointly staged by Messe Friedrichshafen and the World Directory of Leisure Aviation last year for the first time, will return in 2010.
For more information: Aero-Expo.de.