Image: Testing electric propulsion

Aug 20, 2014
Credit: NASA Langley/David C. Bowman

On Aug. 19, National Aviation Day, a lot of people are reflecting on how far aviation has come in the last century. Could this be the future – a plane with many electric motors that can hover like a helicopter and fly like a plane, and that could revolutionize air travel?

Engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., are studying the concept with models such as the unmanned aerial system GL-10 Greased Lightning. The GL-10, which has a 10-foot wingspan, recently flew successfully while tethered. Free-flight tests are planned in the fall of 2014.

This research has helped lead to NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate efforts to better understand the potential of electric propulsion across all types, sizes and missions for aviation.

Explore further: Virginia Tech unmanned aircraft test site 'fully operational,' FAA says

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euroflycars
not rated yet Aug 28, 2014
Here are a couple of reasons to think NASA's concept is flawed:

Unlike Moller's Wankel engines calling for numerous small propellers, electric propulsion can generate huge torques with a single motor, calling for a minimum of large diameter rotors without heavy reduction gears -- which means that already existing tilt-rotor concepts like the military V22 and the civil AW-609 are predestined for electric propulsion.

If the NASA honestly wanted to foster electric propulsion, they would instead try hard to develop variable/reversible-twist tilt rotor blades to make the AW-609 fit for safe auto-rotation landings as is mandatory for civil certification.

But the government-abiding NASA people are rather paid for promoting foul concepts like Moller's flying car so as to keep the civil society from producing myriads of autonomous man-carrying electric tilt-rotor drones threatening the absolute control of the global airspace by the US military-industrial complex and its godfathers...
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2014
electric propulsion can generate huge torques with a single motor, calling for a minimum of large diameter rotors without heavy reduction gears -- which means that already existing tilt-rotor concepts like the military V22 and the civil AW-609 are predestined for electric propulsion
A rolling takeoff is still much more efficient than VTOL. The only reason for tiltrotors is versatility.

"Recently proposed electric aircraft concepts for the future, feature unconventional and rather radical propulsion systems such as distributed propulsion technology or electrothermal turbopropulsion (Turboarcjet)."