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Electric-Powered Pylon Racing Planned

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Old April 24th 18, 11:53 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
Larry Dighera
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Default Electric-Powered Pylon Racing Planned


Electric-Powered Pylon Racing Planned

By Mary Grady , Contributing editor | April 24, 2018

The first pylon race to feature all-electric aircraft is in the works
for 2020, the organizers recently announced. Air Race E, an
event-planning team based in Dubai, has “secured all the key
components to make this vision a reality,” said CEO Jeff Zaltman. He
said the pilots and venues are ready to go and aircraft are in
development. “We are now just looking for the best powerplant and
electrical systems for the job,” he said. The races will feature
multiple airplanes on a closed circuit around pylons, close to the
ground, and will be faster than any land-based sport, according to the
Air Race E website.

Each airplane, driven by a propeller and powered only by an electric
motor, is light and sleek and built solely for racing, according to
the website. Air Race E says it has a dedicated test center where the
race planes are being engineered, qualified test pilots and certified
race pilots are ready to fly, and they are working with the official
formula air-racing associations that sanction new races. Zaltman said
he hopes the races will "drive the development and promotion of
cleaner and faster electric aircraft." Another race already is in the
works for electric aircraft — a challenge to fly from Great Britain to
Australia in an electric-powered airplane, set for next year.


London-Darwin Air Race Planned For 2019

By Mary Grady | March 27, 2018

In 1919, just after World War I, the Australian government offered a
10,000-pound prize for the first flight to Australia from Great
Britain in less than 30 days. The race was won by a crew of two
Australian pilots flying an open-cockpit Vickers Vimy aircraft. They
made it to Darwin after 23 stops in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Now a new challenge is being offered for 2019 — to re-trace the
original route in an electric-powered aircraft. “By showcasing
low-pollution, electrically powered and innovative, highly efficient
aircraft in the Great Air Race, we aim to celebrate a century of
achievement by engineers, designers and aircraft constructors,” the
organizers say at their website. “We will together usher in the next
century of quiet, environmentally friendly aviation.”

The race is open to a variety of aircraft, with three classes for
electric aircraft, and an “efficiency class” that will accept aircraft
of any design, including those driven by combustion engines and
hybrids. The concept for the race originated with Dick Smith, an
Australian “aviator, adventurer and businessman,” according to the
website. Smith lobbied government agencies and others to find support,
and has offered to contribute up to $1 million to the effort. The
chief historian of the project, Brian Kino, told The Australian that
although few Australians today are familiar with the 1919 event, at
the time, the winning pilots, Ross and Keith Smith, *were honored as
heroes worldwide. The race is being sponsored by the Northern
Territory government, as well as corporate partners.



Technical Requirements
Will your team make history as the first electric aircraft to fly
across the globe from London to Darwin?

The Centenary E-Race provides corporations, aviation enthusiasts and
pilots in Australia and around the world with a unique opportunity to
get involved in a modern-day adventure and become a part of history!

The flight will take place in late 2019, and the flight plan will
largely follow the original route taken by pioneering aviators Ross
and Keith Smith a century ago in their epic journey of 1919. Albeit
with some deviations to take modern realities into account.

To mark a century of aviation innovation, and in recognition of the
new challenges facing our planet, entries for the Centenary E-Race (to
be held in late 2019) will be restricted to electrically powered and
innovative, highly efficient aircraft. These will be divided into
four classes:

Battery electric
Hydrogen fuel-cell electric
Hybrid combustion-engine electric
Efficiency class

Class I. Battery Electric
Aircraft must be exclusively electrically powered.
From the beginning of the take-off roll, during flight and until the
aircraft comes to rest after landing, all energy must be supplied
exclusively from onboard batteries, wind-driven turbines/propellers
and/or solar cells.

Class II. Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Electric
Aircraft must be exclusively electrically powered.
From the beginning of the take-off roll, during flight and until the
aircraft comes to rest after landing, all energy must be supplied
exclusively from onboard batteries, wind-driven turbines/propellers,
solar cells and hydrogen.

Class III. Hybrid Combustion-Engine Electric
Aircraft must be exclusively electrically powered.
Only series hybrids are permitted. There must be no mechanical drive
of any kind from the combustion engine to the propeller or propulsion
From the beginning of the take-off roll, during flight and until the
aircraft comes to rest after landing, all energy must be supplied
exclusively from on-board batteries, wind-driven turbines/propellers,
solar cells and the declared fuel.

Class IV. Efficiency Class
Aircraft may be of any design, including purely combustion engine
driven, and hybrid aircraft of any configuration.
The winner’s score will be calculated from a combination of flight
time and fuel consumption (formula TBA).

Additional Information
Aircraft may be of any airworthy design, size and construction. In
order to be accepted as an entry, teams must demonstrate that the
aircraft has received the necessary Permit to Fly and that the
pilot(s) have the necessary qualifications and experience in that
particular aircraft.

Prior to any entry being accepted, additional information will be
required on the achieved performance of the aircraft.
Additional technical requirements will be advised in due course.


The Technology
The electric revolution is coming to aviation, that much we can say
for sure! Across the world, big money is being poured into research
and development. With the environmental impact of aviation becoming a
major concern, and the airline industry’s ongoing quest for more
efficient aircraft, investors have spotted a golden opportunity.

The ultimate goal of this electric revolution is to create not only
small aircraft for local use, but to reimagine international airliners
as well! Already, two-seat aircraft are available for pilot training,
and we’re proud to say that Australia is one of the first countries in
the world to embrace this technology. Electro Aero in Perth is just
one example of this, offering the public a chance to experience
electric flight through training sessions and trial flights.

Electro Aero
The advantages of electric aircraft are huge. Not only do they offer
pollution-free flying, but operating costs are lower and noise levels
are dramatically reduced — a real bonus both for passengers and for
people who live or work around airports.

However, achieving long distance flight in an electric aircraft is
still the greatest challenge. There are currently three approaches to
tackling this problem, battery electric, hydrogen fuel-cell electric,
and hybrid combustion-engine electric. These three solutions will all
feature alongside economy trial solutions in our 2019 E-Race, and
could quite possibly go on to change the face of aviation forever!

Battery Electric
Conceptually, this is by far the simplest solution. Not too dissimilar
to an electric car, these aircraft have a large, lightweight battery
and an electric motor.

The motor, which has very high efficiency (over 90%, compared to ~25%
efficiency of a typical car engine) drives the propeller directly.
Because the electric motor is much smaller, lighter, and more
efficient than its fuel-burning counterpart, the aircraft can also be
more aerodynamic — further increasing efficiency! It’s also possible
to boost the energy stored in the batteries by placing a large array
of solar cells on the wings and tail.

Despite this, Battery Electric solutions still face a major challenge.
They’re still limited by the amount of energy that the battery can
store. The best batteries on the market currently use lithium-ion
technology, very similar to the batteries used in electric vehicles,
laptops, and drones. Major improvements in battery technology —
particular in the amount of energy they can store — have already been
demonstrated in laboratories. The question is, will such batteries be
ready in time for the 2019 rendition of the Great Air Race?

Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Electric
A cylinder of compressed hydrogen gas can carry much more energy than
a battery of the same weight! So it’s no surprise that hydrogen fuel
cells have garnered the interest of aviation heavyweights such as
Boeing, NASA, and Airbus.

So how does it work? Simply put, hydrogen and oxygen are combined in a
fuel cell, which produces electrical energy and water vapour.
Batteries are then used to smooth out the load, with the system
feeding an electrically driven propeller.

In many ways hydrogen is the ideal fuel. A hydrogen fuel cell produces
only electricity and water vapour, and the hydrogen itself can be
created from water, using only electricity. Therefore, the entire
system is a closed cycle! As long as the electricity used to split,
or “electrolyse”, the water to create hydrogen is generated by
renewable sources, such as wind and solar, there are no greenhouse gas
emissions at any stage of the operation. In effect, it becomes a
“wind powered” or “solar powered” aircraft.

A boeing hydrogen jet aircraft flies in formation

Whilst some small hydrogen fuel cell powered aircraft have already
proven emission free flight is possible, the technology has a fair way
to go before it’s able to take us around the world! Although hydrogen
fuel only weighs about a third of kerosene jet-fuel for the same
amount of energy, at normal temperatures hydrogen is a gas, rather
than a liquid. To carry a usable amount of fuel in a reasonable
volume, hydrogen must either by compressed to incredible pressures
(350 to 700 times atmospheric pressure) — or cooled to -253 C to
liquify it.

Either way, the specialised containers end up much heavier than they
fuel they contain, greatly reducing the weight advantage of the
hydrogen. Unlike most aircraft, where the wings are used for fuel
storage, aircraft using liquid hydrogen will typically carry their
fuel inside the fuselage, where the specialised storage tanks can be
designed with minimum surface area to reduce boil-off. While the
larger fuselage that results might increase skin friction drag and
wave drag, reducing aircraft performance, innovative solutions are
being explored where the super-cold hydrogen gas can help cool the
electric motors, and even improve the aerodynamics of the wings.

It’s also worth noting that because hydrogen fuel is a relative
newcomer, it is currently more expensive than fossil fuels. However,
South Australia is installing some of the largest hydrogen
electrolysers in the world, with a view to Australia becoming a major
world producer of climate-friendly hydrogen fuel. This could have a
major impact on the advancement of hydrogen fuel cell technology, but
only time will tell if it’s ready in time for the 2019 E-Race!

Hybrid Combustion-Engine Electric
In a hybrid aircraft, as in a hybrid car, both batteries and a
combustion engine are used. This combines many of the benefits of
both — the aircraft can take off and land on electric power alone with
minimal noise, with the combustion engine giving plenty of range.

In the Great Air Race we have created a separate class for series
hybrids. In this configuration, the combustion engine drives an
electrical generator. The aircraft propeller is driven by an electric
motor, with power coming both from the generator and from on-board
batteries. The aircraft is therefore not only quiet when close to
inhabited areas, but the efficiencies gained by designing the
combustion engine for “cruise” power rather than “take off” power
leads to major savings in fuel consumption – and hence greenhouse gas

Hybrid Electric aircraft could become a common sight quicker than you
think. A prime example is the Equator Aircraft (pictured) produced out
of Norway. This is the result of a need to reduce operational costs,
and a call to cut down on airline emissions and noise pollution.

The European commission has stated (as part of its flightpath 2050
plan) that it wants to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 60%, nitrogen
oxide pollution down by 90%, and noise pollution by 75%. In addition
to this, airline fuel costs have been at the mercy of oil price
fluctuations, and costs have varied anywhere between 17-36% over
recent years. So, it’s clear to see why so many aviation titans are
interested in Hybrid Electric solutions!

Efficiency Class
There are many ways to reduce the fuel consumption, and simultaneously
the greenhouse gas emissions, of long-haul aircraft.

Aircraft designers are working hard not only on more efficient
designs, but also on innovative concepts such as the Airbus E-Fan X.
Extremely fuel-efficient light aircraft are already commercially
available, making this class effectively open to anyone!

The 2019 E-Race will provide a proving ground for smaller aircraft
with global capability, and could very well lead us into the future of


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