Trying Electric Flight…

Okay, the title is click-baity. I’m not trying electric flight — well, any kind of flight presently (though I’d love to) but on the heels of the post I’d made a short while ago about electric flight, here’s another piece that The Flying Reporter did on the Pipistrel Velis Electro.

Honestly, it doesn’t seem that Pipistrel is currently marketing the Velis Electro in the USA (but they do marked two of their other Electric aircraft as either LSA or Experimental here).

I’m still rather unclear as to the TCO for a private owner.

Although, again, ideal for training flights or flying the circuits several times round airfields in reasonable VFR conditions or as a commuter making short jaunts between airfields perhaps 50 or 75 NM apart.

Don’t think about how it won’t meet everyone’s needs (heh, just think of the uphill challenges faced by EVs in society). Instead, think about how, given what it can do very well, how it can fill some needs.

Yes, this may be an aircraft that has an optimistic future.

The State of Electric Aircraft

First, there’s Joe Scott’s take on a brief history and the current state of electrically-powered aviation along with some of the challenges that we all, socially and culturally, will need to overcome:

Are they doomed? That depends entirely upon what you consider to be “required” for an electric aircraft.

Next, there’s Pipistrel (Wiki), a Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer who has entirely-E-powered Velis Electro intended for training purposes. In fact, they have received, shockingly, the very first-ever Type Certificate from EASA — the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Pipistrel Electric Taurus (0:30), Alpha (2:18), and Velis Electro (3:44)

It’s only a matter of time until an eager aviator (or two or three) purchase and import a Velis registered as an Experimental Aircraft. Note that the Pipistrel Alpha is certificated as an Experimental or LSA already in the USA (ca. US$175,000, more or less as an LSA).

No Type Certificate for the Velis in the USA…

Yet.

Give it time.

Uh, no, it isn’t.

Spotted on one of the hand-outs that was dispersed last week:

I’m starting to think I’ve had (another) stroke.

It reads: “Is this true or false? Relative to ultrasonic testing, air is considered a good conductor and for this reason ultrasound will carry long distances in air.”

First, “relative to ultrasonic testing”? Not sure what that might mean.

Second, no, air is a rather horrible conductor of ultrasonic sound energy.

It reads as “TRUE – Relative to ultrasonic testing, air is considered a good conductor for this reason ultrasound will carry long distances in air.”

Uh… no, it isn’t and, no, it won’t. Air (of any kind or density) is an absolutely horrible sound transmission medium.

Starting a Rotary Engine…

Spotted on the Tubes of You — a hand-prop start of a rotary engine.

Now, for everyone else, this could be labeled “How Not To…”. No, nobody was puréed by the spinning prop. But there were so many possibilities for things to go pear-shaped rather quickly.

  • Inside of a hangar
  • Against a wall
  • The position of controls and the motor (and prop!) limit your vectors for egress
  • Walking around a spinning prop
  • Without ear protection (or eye protection)
  • And horrifying hand-propping technique involving walking slowly backward

Steve Thorn (FlightChops) and Kris Finkbeiner (with TacAero) demonstrates what we like to call the right way to hand-prop.

I rather like the effort Steve has shared in aviation through FlightChops. Rather inspiring, honestly.

A few last moment remarks on walking (staggering?) backward — and this applies to walking, running, bicycling, motorcycles, cars, trucks… but probably not locomotives (unless you’re its engineer):

Always watch where you’re going.

Never watch where you were.

Remain focused on the now and never fixate on what was.

Also, also: Just remembered that Steve did a couple of episodes on hand-propping. Here’s one that he covered on a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver:

AMT – The Program So Far

I’ve found that, apart from lectures which include the entire class and comprise two to three hours per day, that all lab-time is effectively self-guided. Well, it’s not self-guided, per se, but guided by you and your lab partner, which is critical to learning. You can’t do it alone, you can’t do anything alone in life, but I digress.

Back to lab partners for a moment — it would be nice if we had more than just a single lab partner, but in the present scenario we find ourselves in, it’s not possible to have learning groups of three or four students sharing knowledge and learnings.

Right, so self-directed labs: Yes, there are certain things that you’ll need to do and demonstrate understanding of concepts, and the instructors do have a general roadmap for learning, but I’ve found that it seems very much self-guided.

No, you won’t be mucking about on airframes or in engines or turbines* until you obtain the exposure to basic concepts. As your experience grows, additional opportunities for learning will present themselves.

So, no, there aren’t any collective labs that need to be accomplished by the class as a whole, but individually, you’ll be exploring each of the labs.

I have found that after I’d spent what must have been a few hours trying to interpret a particular chart — to which we didn’t have any exposure or understanding of (the concept seems to have been to challenge the learner to see how they may interpret it, not knowing how it’s used, nor what it’s called), things rather clicked into place when I realized that I was horribly over-interpreting its enormous amount of information, but that we only needed one tiny bit of its figures.

Also, in another diagram, the question presented was, “How many miles per gallon will the plane get at 7500′, an RPM of 2600, and a ground speed of 172 MPH?” It seemed a non sequitur — asking for miles per gallon? And ground speed? For an airplane? Obviously I was painfully over-analyzing it.

Look at the basics! I have a lifetime of knowledge and experience that seems to be something of an impediment. But they haven’t described in lectures for learners new to the concept of aviation that we use airspeed for aircraft, not ground speed. What do new students know? Ground speed. MPH and KPH.

* I’m rather looking forward to getting some hands-on with both radials and turbines to run them, tear them down and rebuild them, and run them some more.