Record-setting electric airplane exceeds 200-mph (w/ Video)

Jul 23, 2012 by Nancy Owano report

(Phys.org) -- Last week’s record of the fastest ever manned electric aircraft was set by electric-vehicle record-setter Chip Yates. He already had credentials as holding the world record for fastest electric motorcycle going over 196 mph last year. As a test pilot this time around, Yates flew an electric airplane and achieved 202.6 mph in level flight. This topped the previous record of 175 mph last year by the electric aircraft Cri-Cri. The latter, flown by French pilot Hugues Duval, broke the record during the Paris Air Show. The aircraft was powered by a pair of 35-horsepower electric motors and a pair of lithium polymer batteries.

Test pilot Yates is now the first person to ever fly an electric aircraft faster than 200 miles per hour, in his test last week at the Inyokern Airport in California’s Mojave Desert.

The plane that he flew is called the Long-ESA, (for Electric Speed and Altitude). The aircraft is a modified Long-EZ, serving as a development platform for a new electric aircraft system which will be utilized for a flight across the Atlantic later on. The transatlantic flight is scheduled for 2014.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

The electric Long-ESA, powered by a 258 horsepower electric motor, is being worked on by electric aerospace company Flight of the Century (FOTC), where Yates is CEO, as an R&D plane for development of the company's “mid-air recharging technology.” The company team converted Burt Rutan’s Long-EZ airplane (Rutan is an aerospace engineer) for the trial flight. In a two-month workup at the FOTC site, the plane’s gasoline power was converted over to electric power.

Just how much can an electric plane achieve? So far, engineers looking at the electric plane’s future in practical terms are concerned the most with range rather than speed, and news of speed records command less attention than longevity of flight. In recognition, Yates hopes his speed runs will help develop the technology needed for longer-endurance flights and more practical .

Yesterday’s flight of the electric Long-ESA lasted only 16 minutes. There was a hitch when Yates realized that a battery had been run too low and he had to land sooner than expected. Long-ESA will be given a more capable as part of subsequent work. The company expects a top speed of 230 to 250 mph with the full-size battery pack in place in September.

Yates, meanwhile, is bringing the Long-ESA to the 2012 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh event, which runs July 23 to July 29, where the craft will go on display and where he will present his flight data. FOTC engineers worked on the test program to generate data, video and knowledge in time to share with attendees. After Oshkosh, the company intends to equip the Long-ESA with a custom designed lithium-ion series of battery packs and a front-mounted recharging probe to test mid-air tethering and battery jettison along with “rebalance” technologies.

Beyond this test flight, the core mission behind FOTC is to extend the range and endurance of an electric-powered aircraft by replacing battery packs in flight using its mid-air refueling technique of "flying battery packs," drones full of batteries, for various ground or ocean stations. A UAV would detach from the “mothership” once the batteries are depleted and fly down to a recharging station as a freshly charged battery pack is launched to dock with the aircraft.

Explore further: Switch on sunlight for a brighter future

More information: www.flightofthecentury.com/

Related Stories

World's first aircraft with serial hybrid electric drive

Jun 24, 2011

Together with partners, Siemens has built the world’s first aircraft with a serial hybrid electric drive system. The two-seater motor glider DA36 E-Star is presented by Siemens, Diamond Aircraft and EADS ...

FlyNano electric sea plane takes first test flight

Jun 18, 2012

(Phys.org) -- A single-seat carbon-fiber airplane designed for water operations and proposed as a “fun flyer” has taken its first test flight at Finland’s Lake Hepari. The June test flight comes ...

Recommended for you

Switch on sunlight for a brighter future

2 hours ago

Imagine sitting in a windowless room yet having the feeling of the sun shining on your face. This unique experience is now possible thanks to the COELUX EU-funded project which recreates the physical and ...

US urged to drop India WTO case on solar

17 hours ago

Environmentalists Wednesday urged the United States to drop plans to haul India to the WTO to open its solar market, saying the action would hurt the fight against climate change.

Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?

Apr 23, 2014

"I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway—as well as doing everything else that we can—then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering." So says Tom Wigley, one ...

Finalists named in Bloomberg European city contest

Apr 23, 2014

Amsterdam wants to create an online game to get unemployed young people engaged in finding jobs across Europe. Schaerbeek, Belgium, envisions using geothermal mapping to give households personalized rundowns of steps to save ...

Bloomberg invests $5M in solar-powered lamp

Apr 22, 2014

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's foundation has announced a $5 million investment in an artsy-looking solar-powered lamp designed for use in off-grid populations in Africa.

User comments : 6

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TheDoctor
5 / 5 (1) Jul 23, 2012
Outstanding work, hope your successful in extending its range.
Shootist
3 / 5 (2) Jul 23, 2012
Now if the title said, "nuclear powered aircraft circumnavigates the globe"? That would be news.
Anorion
1 / 5 (2) Jul 23, 2012
Now if the title said, "nuclear powered aircraft circumnavigates the globe"? That would be news.

-Shootist

even better news "nuclear powered aircraft crushes and dsiperse radioactive material over hunderts of squares kilometers, all inside are death or will die soon cause they were iradiated, all resque and debris cleaning personal must wear special anti radiation suits and must not work in the zone more than 30min to not to be iradiated too much, and authoritys fear rain cause if it rains radio active material will infiltrate soil and water underground..."
Expiorer
1 / 5 (1) Jul 24, 2012
But the communication system is from last century.
jackofshadows
not rated yet Aug 02, 2012
Actually you could use the plutonium battery pack that NASA uses for its long range/high endurance space missions. It produces 10 kW, last time I looked, which works out to about 13 HP, so you'd need a few to meet or beat the demand in the plane cited. Weight must be considered however since NASA designed them to fall from orbit and impact with the earth with no leakage. Hell, it even tells 'em where to pick it up. Lastly, endurance is 10 effective full-power years. Yes, 10 years.

Now, of course, the anti-nukes wouldn't hesitate to block production, just as they attempt to block every launch of a probe with this installed. Still, something to think about especially in the context of seriously extended UAV missions.
Bewia
not rated yet Aug 02, 2012
Actually, the usage of cold fusion in plane is already more realistic, than the usage of plutonium battery in terms of plain money.

More news stories

Review: 'Hearthstone' card game is the real deal

Video game publishers don't take many risks with their most popular franchises. You know exactly what you are going to get from a new "Call of Duty" or "Madden NFL" game—it will probably be pretty good, ...