Battery Powered Flight–Still A Pipedream

From NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

I had a model plane that was powered by rubber bands when I was a boy, but you would not fly across the Atlantic on one!

When a one-person plane powered purely by electricity took to the skies above the village of Little Snoring, it was a remarkable achievement in British engineering.

The maiden voyage of the first all-electric light aircraft designed and built entirely in the UK could herald the beginning of a new, homegrown, zero-emissions aerospace manufacturing industry.

But its victory lap didn’t last long. The plane was up for just 33 minutes above the airfield in Norfolk, before it came back down for a recharge.

The all-electric microlight aeroplane could last up to 90 minutes on full charge “on paper”, according to Guy Gratton, an associate professor of aviation at Cranfield University, who piloted the Sherwood eKub.

The plane was manufactured by The Light Aircraft Company (TLAC), which sells small planes to hobbyists around the world, and built by a British-based consortium led by Mr Gratton.

It is a major achievement in the race to establish emission-free air travel which the Government has backed with its Jet Zero Council. But it is unlikely to be the answer to eliminate the guilt from your overseas holidays any time soon.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/05/04/electric-planes-have-finally-taken-wont-get-far/

Why is soppy Emma Gatten writing this, instead of the Telegraph’s aviation editor, who might know what he is talking about? (And, by the way, I don’t have any guilt about flying!)

As any aviation expert would have told her, battery powered flight has a fundamental obstacle, which it cannot overcome except for this sort of microlight, short range flight –  the ratio of weight to energy density.

Put simply, to install enough battery capacity for a longer flight would add too much weight to the aircraft for it to be in any way useful.

This microlight might find a niche amongst hobbyists. But as the Managing Director of TLAC admits:

“For the hobbyist, the leisure aviator, there is undoubtedly a market for it. But I’m certainly not basing my entire company’s future business on the project.”

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Bob Tisdale(@bobtisdale)
Editor
May 7, 2022 2:14 am

Battery-powered airliner? What could go wrong? It doesn’t take much of an imagination to picture the horrors after batteries explode at 30,000 feet.

If you have a lousy imagination, see:
Electric Bus Catches Fire After Battery Explosion – Watts Up With That?

Regards,
Bob

Duker
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
May 7, 2022 2:28 am

Kerosene is more combustible. There are plenty or reasons batteries don’t work for airliners but the fire risk isn’t top of the list

Reply to  Duker
May 7, 2022 3:23 am

Kerosene (Avtur) is not easily ignited. You can flick lighted matches into a spilt puddle with no danger at all
You’re confusing it with wide-cut gasolene, the cheapo equivalent.

JF

fred101
Reply to  Julian Flood
May 7, 2022 4:53 am

Kerosene aerosol clouds produced in a crash easily support combustion is ignited and the radiative heat transfer from the fireball easily ignites pooled liquid. Finally, the flashpoint of kerosene is depressed with altitude. TWQ 800 vapor mixture in the central fuel tank was ignited by an electrical cable failure most likely in the tank ullage

IanE
Reply to  fred101
May 7, 2022 5:57 am

Yep: so the motto is, do not carry kerosene in battery-powered vehicles, just in case the batteries should explode.

Duane
Reply to  IanE
May 7, 2022 12:56 pm

The batteries don’t explode, they burn at a rate far slower than in gasoline or diesel fires, enabling human occupants to easily exit the vehicle, unlike fossil fuel fires on vehicles or aircraft.

RexAlan
Reply to  Duane
May 7, 2022 4:59 pm
Mark D
Reply to  Duane
May 7, 2022 5:29 pm

Easily exit the vehicle at 30,000′ ?

James
Reply to  Mark D
May 9, 2022 9:07 am

Trevor Jacob style?

Mark D
Reply to  James
May 9, 2022 11:01 am

Seems a number of people have fallen out of aircraft and survived.
Some w/o a scratch!

WOOOIEE what a RUSH!

Last edited 16 days ago by Mark D
Dennis
Reply to  Duane
May 8, 2022 10:09 pm

Look up Exothermic Reaction and Lithium Ion batteries.

Doubting Rich
Reply to  Duane
May 9, 2022 2:06 am

No Duane, they don’t burn more slowly. They also burn uncontrollably.

Fire can be put out because it needs air. Ignition or reignition can be prevented by cooling because it need heat. Batteries need no air to release their energy and no initial heat to start the process. In the event of an accident with an electric car battery fire services literally wait for it to discharge completely.

Duane
Reply to  IanE
May 7, 2022 1:00 pm

Batteries don’t explode, but diesel fueled vehicles burn up all the time, ditto with gasoline powered vehicles. Hundreds of thousand such fossil fuel powered vehicles burn up each year in the US., per data from NFPA.

ScarletMacaw
Reply to  Duane
May 7, 2022 5:24 pm

The energy stored in fossil fuels is high, but only in the presence of an oxidant. Gasoline vehicles can catch fire and burn, but the burn rate is limited by access to oxygen, so they don’t burn very fast unless involved in a serious crash that spreads the gasoline.

The energy stored in a battery is 100% self-contained. Batteries can release all of their stored energy almost instantaneously.

I had a gas vehicle catch fire when the fuel line developed a leak and dripped on the hot engine. It took 10 minutes for a cop to arrive with a fire extinguisher to put it out. The damage to the vehicle was minor after those 10 minutes.

Last edited 18 days ago by ScarletMacaw
Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  Duane
May 7, 2022 6:12 pm

I am curious about your data. I found a paper by DOT that studied motor coach and school bus fires for a decade ending in 2013. (https://doi.org/10.21949/1502980) They found approximately one fire in each class per day for the entire US. This does not translate into your large number of buses catching fire each year. On a percentage basis, battery-powered buses appear to catch fire a lot more often than diesel-powered buses.

Doubting Rich
Reply to  Duane
May 9, 2022 2:09 am

Petrol and diesel fires can be extinguished. They tend to start slowly and progress. The energy release from battery damage or faults tends to quickly reach its peak (someone already showed you a video) because it does not need high temperatures or oxygen supply that fires need.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  fred101
May 7, 2022 7:48 am

“Finally, the flashpoint of kerosene is depressed with altitude.”

Well, for sure, the amount of oxygen available to support combustion deceases with altitude.

Per the “standard atmosphere” model, at 6.6 km (about 22,000 ft) altitude above MSL the ambient air density—and, hence, concentration of all mixed gases in air in units of ppmv—is about half that of sea-level.

MR166
Reply to  fred101
May 7, 2022 3:21 pm

TWA Flight 800 was hit by a missile! There were multiple eyewitnesses accounts of the streak in the sky hitting the plane.

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  MR166
May 7, 2022 6:20 pm

I, like you, believed the reports from people on boats near the accident. However, the final investigation showed no evidence of missile damage. The explosion was in the central fuel tank but internally caused, not externally. The NTSC did not offer a definitive cause but said it was likely a short circuit. If it happens again, the planes will need a nitrogen or argon purge of the air in the tanks to prevent this.

Doubting Rich
Reply to  MR166
May 9, 2022 2:24 am

No it wasn’t. There are pictures easily available of the aircraft reconstructed for the investigation. They clearly show an explosion outward, and no evidence of damage from a missile.

Eye witnesses are notoriously unreliable.

Doubting Rich
Reply to  fred101
May 9, 2022 2:03 am

You realise that TWA800 was investigated so changes could be made that it can no longer happen, right?

Duane
Reply to  Julian Flood
May 7, 2022 12:54 pm

Just tell that to most of the victims and their families of 9.11.01, most of whom died due the post crash fire of thousands of gallons of kerosene – i.e., jet fuel, that brought down the two World Trade Center buildings.

Dan
Reply to  Duane
May 7, 2022 3:27 pm

If those had been electric airplanes, with enough batteries to equal jet-fuel flight, the damage would have bee similar.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Duane
May 7, 2022 7:09 pm

I do believe the jury is still out on “the most people died due to . . .” speculations for the twin towers of the WTC.

Primary causes cited are:
— Death by direct heat from fire
— Death by smoke inhalation or asphyxiation related to fire
— Death by blunt force trauma during building collapse.

A big uncertainty is due to the fact than the remains of very many human bodies were only partially recovered (some not recovered at all) due to the combination of heat and fire and crushing loads following the buildings collapsing . . . making cause-of-death indeterminable.

Doubting Rich
Reply to  Duane
May 9, 2022 2:27 am

What? No-one is disputing it can burn. That is how the engines work you realise? The point is that it is not as hazardous in an accident as a damaged battery. It only ignites if evaporated (which needs heat, it is not like petrol that forms enough vapour to combust easily at room temperature) and a ignition source.

rhoda klapp
Reply to  Julian Flood
May 8, 2022 3:52 am

A fella in my old squadron demonstrated this. He flicked the match, the fuel and the helicopter went up in flames, and he went to military jail.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Duker
May 7, 2022 3:24 am

Does kerosene self-combust?

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Mike Lowe
May 7, 2022 7:50 am

In the absence of an oxidizer, absolutely not.

Duane
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
May 7, 2022 12:57 pm

So you’re safe on the moon … on earth, not so much. Meanwhile, here on Earth …

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Duane
May 7, 2022 7:26 pm

Duane,

Haven’t you heard? The Moon is a harsh mistress.

Or maybe you’re just not a fan of Heinlein, Judy Collins or Jimmy Web.

Doubting Rich
Reply to  Duane
May 9, 2022 3:12 am

Or you are safe if oxygen supply is kept away from the kerosene.

IanE
Reply to  Duker
May 7, 2022 5:55 am

Oh dear, sounds like my (kerosene) oil-tank must be a massive fire hazard. Strangely though the health and safety mob aren’t even slightly worried – perhaps you should drop them a line and point out how blinded they have been!

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  IanE
May 7, 2022 7:53 am

. . . and while you’re at it, drop a line to the Department of Transportation and ask them why they allow all those kerosene diesel-fueled trucks to be on US highways.

Last edited 18 days ago by Gordon A. Dressler
ihfan
Reply to  Duker
May 7, 2022 8:13 am

Kerosene is more combustible. There are plenty or reasons batteries don’t work for airliners but the fire risk isn’t top of the list

Kerosene will not spontaneously ignite.

The risk of fire may not be “at the top of the list” of problems, but by itself it’s enough to keep them from being used in passenger aircraft for now.

Duh.

Duker
Reply to  ihfan
May 7, 2022 3:50 pm

I said the batteries other problems are far greater than their fire risk.

Bryan A
Reply to  Duker
May 7, 2022 8:27 am

Kerosene might be more combustible…BUT…it isn’t “Spontaneously Combustible” like rechargeable batteries are

Mike
Reply to  Duker
May 7, 2022 8:37 am

The 787 has a special armored compartment for its batteries. A compartment that will vent to the outside air in case of a battery fire. An early 787 (a Japanese airline, I think) had a fire because the battery was overcharged. That required a major safety redesign.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Mike
May 7, 2022 8:46 am

Early on, two 787 had Li battery fires, owing, it has been reported, to poor design of the battery management system. Fortunately, both aircraft were on the ground at the time.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Duker
May 7, 2022 9:56 am

Kerosene (Jet-A) is not really combustible unless it’s in aerosol form. Avgas used in piston-engine planes is highly combustible. Jet-B (JP4), which is basically kerosene with naphtha added, is used in jet and turbo aircraft in very cold climates (and, I believe in some military aircraft) because kerosene alone won’t ignite when you want to start the engine at minus 40C

We’ve all seen photos of crashed jet aircraft with wreckage strewn all over a hillside, and no sign of fire. That’s good evidence for the safety of kerosene as a jet fuel.

The point is, of course, that all these fuels will burn in the right circumstances, but that they never self-ignite in normal operating usage. Which you can’t say for lithium batteries.

4E Douglas
Reply to  Duker
May 7, 2022 10:37 am

Never experienced a Ni Cad runaway in flight? I have and the battery was located near the wing spar. The Lithium Battery has a similar potential.

Duane
Reply to  Duker
May 7, 2022 12:51 pm

Fire is the second leading cause of fatalities in aircraft accidents, after blunt force trauma … and all due to combustion of fossil fuels.

The combustion of f fossil fuels post crash is what killed most of the victims on 9.11.01. It was the post crash fire that brought down the buildings, not the impact of the crash.

The people involved in aviation, unlike the moderators and writers at WUWT who don’t know jack about aviation safety, are extremely aware that gasoline or jet fuel is what will kill you should you survive the crash.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Duane
May 7, 2022 3:10 pm

Did you think no one would notice you changed from talking about kerosene to gasoline?

ScarletMacaw
Reply to  Duane
May 7, 2022 5:33 pm

Seriously? Those fires were after a disastrous crash. The bus that caught fire was just sitting there. You’re comparing apples and watermelons.

Doubting Rich
Reply to  Duane
May 9, 2022 3:16 am

Fire is the second leading cause of fatalities in aircraft accidents…”

Fallacy. That has zero bearing on the claim that batteries are a greater fire hazard than Jet A1.

You can’t say it is more of a hazard because more people have died from Jet A1 fires in aircraft when most aircraft and all airliners for decades have used Jet A1 as fuel and none of them have used batteries as their store of energy for flight.

Dan
Reply to  Duker
May 7, 2022 3:25 pm

So when was the last time an airliner caught fire and crashed? Long time ago. It’s extremely rare, and sometimes it’s an electrical fire, not a fuel or fuel vapor fire.

OTOH, electric cars catch fire all the time, and the firefighters have lots of fun trying to put them out. Sometimes they get them out, and they burst back into flames a few hours later.

I’m an aircraft mechanic and commercial pilot. Worked with Jet fuel some. Not nearly as combustible as gasoline, and even gasoline-powered airplanes don’t burn unless they’re crashed, and then only occasionally. Battery-powered airplanes will burn when crashed, too.

Dean
Reply to  Duker
May 8, 2022 7:17 am

I use kerosene in my camping stove and I can tell you the risk of explosion is bugger all. Its very hard to light.

A lit match held just above it takes maybe 20 seconds to get a flame going, there is no explosion.

Doubting Rich
Reply to  Duker
May 9, 2022 2:02 am

Kerosene on its own is completely non combustible! It needs air to combust, and also an ignition source (and quite a strong one). In aircraft fuel tanks there is not enough oxygen for the fuel to burn (sadly a lesson taught by blood of TWA800’s passengers and crew; what new lessons will now be needed?), and they try to avoid any ignition sources as far as possible. The battery itself contains all that is needed for a catastrophic release of all its energy in the event of damage.

There is also the problem of extinguishing. If fuel is on fire after an accident the fire services can extinguish the flames. If the battery is damaged they just have to wait.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
May 7, 2022 2:31 am

Better still see what happens with a lithium battery fire in a cargo aircraft.

Last edited 18 days ago by Leo Smith
Reply to  Leo Smith
May 7, 2022 3:26 am

There’s a push for lithium iron phosphate – erupts less often but the smoke is even more lethal than hydrofluoric acid from good old lithium ion.

JF

Meab
Reply to  Leo Smith
May 7, 2022 10:07 am

Long video but very well done. Not sure that any of the improved fire supression measures would do anything to contain a Li-ion fire.

Doubting Rich
Reply to  Leo Smith
May 9, 2022 3:18 am

It is currently illegal to carry lithium batteries as cargo in a passenger aircraft. This is a good demonstration of why.

Also Mentour Pilot is a fantastic YouTube channel I recommend to my university students.

Rick C
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
May 7, 2022 8:07 am

It would take about 48 million pounds (24,000 tons) of “Tesla batteries” to equal the energy content of the 50,000 gallons of jet fuel that a 747 can hold. A fully loaded 747weighs about 450 tons. No further discussion required about electrifying air travel.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Rick C
May 7, 2022 8:31 am

I’d assume a jet turbine’s conversion of chemical energy to useful work is much less than 100%, but the point is still valid.

Rick C
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
May 7, 2022 9:54 am

Yes, but the conversion of electricity to propulsion is not 100% either. And I’m not aware of any electrically driven aircraft engine that could approach speeds of 550 mph. Jet turbines are incredibly powerful and have a remarkably high power the weight ratio.

Paul C
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
May 7, 2022 10:03 am

And I’d assume that a 747 has vastly reduced the fuel load by the end of the flight. The landing weight is therefore much less. A battery retains the same weight when discharged, so the plane lands with the full weight of the battery.

DMacKenzie
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
May 7, 2022 8:16 am

You gotta admit, there are some interesting things happening…


Robert Hanson
Reply to  DMacKenzie
May 7, 2022 9:25 am

Wow, it was able to skim the treetops (at least the lower ones) for almost 90 seconds. I wonder if UAL has put in an order for a hundred if them yet. 🙂

Russell
Reply to  DMacKenzie
May 7, 2022 9:31 pm

Had to be demonstrated in the country. Anywhere urban would have caused an uproar about the incredible noise. The supersonic sounds from 8 propellers just cannot be engineered out of this design. Not exactly coming to your locality any time soon.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
May 7, 2022 8:33 am

Wait for it Bob … they haven’t thought of it yet, but some professor will be coming up with the idea of a balloon of hydrogen lifting the plane up and then switching on a hydrogen burning engine to use up the H2 from the balloon.

Mr.
Reply to  Gary Pearse
May 7, 2022 10:33 am

Haven’t had my morning coffee yet, but just in passing, I registered a vague disquiet that there was a fundamental flaw in this flight plan.

Duane
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
May 7, 2022 12:46 pm

The bus didn’t explode, it burned … just as 2,200+ internal combustion busses burned last year … and your point is?

Meab
Reply to  Duane
May 7, 2022 1:21 pm

Don’t be an idiot, DuhWayne. There are far, far, far more internal combustion busses so you expect more of them to have a problem. When most IC busses catch fire, it typically starts in the rear of the bus (where the engine is in most busses) and the fire progresses slowly. The fire usually doesn’t intrude throughout the passenger compartment so the passengers can disembark and only have to deal with smoke. Not so with an e-bus, DuhWayne, an e-bus can be completely consumed by fire in seconds.

You’ve been schooled on this before, DuhWayne. Pull your head out.

Last edited 18 days ago by Meab
Tom.1
May 7, 2022 2:39 am

When your true goal is stamping out the privately owned oil and gas industry, you leave no stone unturned.

Ed Zuiderwijk
May 7, 2022 2:40 am

Only in England you find a place called Little Snoring.

Richard Page
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 7, 2022 3:14 am

I think you can find amusing place names in any country you can think of. Holland, for example, has a village named Rectum and one named Moddergat (mudhole).

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Richard Page
May 7, 2022 11:02 am

What about a village called America, or Zurich? It has happened that the postal service got confused.

Duker
Reply to  Richard Page
May 7, 2022 3:52 pm

Frog Jump Tennessee. French Lick Indiana

fretslider
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 7, 2022 3:52 am

There are many places with funny names, such as Bitchfield, Lincolnshire,

Scissor
Reply to  fretslider
May 7, 2022 5:38 am

I like to tell people to go to Hell Michigan.

John Bell
Reply to  Scissor
May 7, 2022 6:01 am

Our club rode our bikes from Devil’s Lake to Hell, Michigan, I live near there.

Scissor
Reply to  John Bell
May 7, 2022 7:25 am

I’ve skied Irish Hills if you can believe it.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Scissor
May 7, 2022 7:31 am

Don’t forget Intercourse, just down the road from Paradise, both in Pennsylvania.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Joe Crawford
May 7, 2022 7:42 am

Climax Saskatchewan

Twat, Scotland. Ready for Trudeau to retire to, named for him

Scissor
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
May 7, 2022 7:49 am

People used to steal the “Welcome to Climax” sign, Climax being another small town in Michigan.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Joe Crawford
May 7, 2022 12:48 pm

Isn’t that where Joe Biden comes from? I keep hearing people say something like Intercourse Joe Biden…

Duker
Reply to  Rich Davis
May 7, 2022 3:54 pm

Brandon , it has 20 places named

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 7, 2022 4:48 am

I was wondering how Little Snoring got it’s name.

Richard Page
Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 7, 2022 9:36 am

It’s Anglo-Saxon, named after the man who founded it, Snear or Snare (swift, bright or alert). Ingas means ‘place of the followers of’ so Snareingas (the place of the followers of Snare) becomes Snoring and there are actually 2 – Little Snoring and Great Snoring.
Bet you wished you hadn’t asked now!

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Richard Page
May 8, 2022 5:02 am

No, I’m glad I did ask. That was a very interesting explanation, and it looks like much more went into the name than I first thought. Thanks. 🙂

atticman
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 7, 2022 5:47 am

If you think that’s peculiar, look up Nempnett Thrubwell or Chipping Sodbury (neither very far from Bristol).

Reply to  atticman
May 7, 2022 10:57 am

Indeed. the ‘Chipping’ bit means the town had a market – stalls set on the chippings, either side of the road IIRC.
Like Chipping Norton [Oxfordshire], and Chipping Ongar [Essex].
I lived in Chipping Sodbury for over a decade, FWIW.

\
Auto

IanE
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 7, 2022 5:58 am

Yes indeed: not a lot of people know that the Cabinet is based in Much Snoring.

meltemian(@meltemian)
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 7, 2022 7:57 am

Puddletown, Dorset is on the River Piddle.

Lee L
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 7, 2022 8:09 am

I was thinkin’ maybe I and the wifey could take a trip out to
Dildo, Newfoundland.( I kid you not).

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Lee L
May 7, 2022 9:27 am

Come-by-chance, Virgin Cove, Tickle Cove, Conception Bay, Muddy Hole… and of course, Dildo. Newfoundland is a world beater in that contest!

Matt Dalby
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 7, 2022 9:15 am

There’s a group on facebook called The Joy Of Signs that sometimes has amusing place names, e.g. Middelfart in Denmark and Poo in Spain.

Mr.
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 7, 2022 10:38 am

Try these on for a giggle –

From Lovely Bottom (Tas) to Bullshit Hill (SA), from Pisspot Creek (Tas) to Titwobble Lane (Vic), via Pimple (Qld), Pensioners Bush (Tas) and Peculiar Knob (SA), Australia really has some world-class place names.  

https://www.souvenirsaustralia.com/blog/funny-actual-australian-place-names/

Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 7, 2022 12:58 pm

There’s the charming little hamlet of Punkeydoodles Corners in Southwestern Ontario (Canada).

Speed
May 7, 2022 3:00 am

One more example of why we shouldn’t bother with the popular press. Jack of all trades, master of nothing, Read the comics, do the crossword and wrap the garbage.

fretslider
May 7, 2022 3:08 am

Coming soon….

In-flight recharging

I’m surprised the loonies haven’t thought of it

IanE
Reply to  fretslider
May 7, 2022 6:00 am

Great idea: they should just take along a small modular nuclear reactor, just like nuclear subs!

Guest
Reply to  IanE
May 7, 2022 6:56 am

Even the nuclear powered aircraft program conceived in the 1950s did not go through an electricity generating stage but applied the reactor heat to the air intake instead of using the heat of combustion.

Chris Nisbet
Reply to  fretslider
May 7, 2022 9:49 am

They just need to figure out how to make flying wind turbines, or more likely, flying coal-fired turbines.

Tom Halla
May 7, 2022 3:30 am

When someone produces an aircraft using batteries that has the performance of a 1937 DC2, I might consider them other than toys.

Slowroll
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 7, 2022 9:12 am

Even if they worked, I couldn’t stand an electric plane. Nowhere near the visceral sound of an old round engine firing up with all manner of burps, farts, thumps, clatters and clouds of white smoke.

Duker
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 7, 2022 3:59 pm

You are closer to that in time period than you think
In 1919 a twin engined converted french bomber Farman F.60 could just carry 12 people from London to Paris. And that would be about the limit of the specially designed battery powered planes in development now ( but maybe 5 yrs away from certification and service)

another ian
May 7, 2022 3:32 am

Don’t forget this one

“The Besler Steam Plane”

Bob B.
May 7, 2022 3:49 am

Hi folks, this is Captain Brandon. Welcome aboard United eFlight 0-2050 , taking you from NY to LA. We,ve reached our cruising altitude of 10,000 feet and have just begun our initial descent into Newark, NJ for our first recharge. We should have you on the ground in LA around 3:00 next Thursday so please sit back and enjoy the flight.

Last edited 18 days ago by Bob B.
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Bob B.
May 7, 2022 4:51 am

“Hi folks, this is Captain Brandon.”

Lol! That’s funny.

ihfan
Reply to  Bob B.
May 7, 2022 8:36 am

…. with the copilot being Cacklin’ Kamala Harris

May 7, 2022 4:15 am

lovely keep it up best one incredible lovely

Stephen Skinner
May 7, 2022 5:01 am

What is the point of electric planes? This has to be the most extreme example of virtue signalling. There are not enough planes to have any significant, or any effect on the atmosphere, especially light aircraft. The enviro zealots see planes as the main issue because that is what they wish to see.
Swampy, the eco protestor was invited by BAA to meet and talk about the 3rd runway at Heathrow. He refused saying ” I’m not interested in the data, it’s the sentiment that matters”, or words to that effect.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
May 9, 2022 9:04 am

Given the state of the technology, the only practical application for electric power now would be a light trainer with removable (and jettison able) battery packs. Lessons are relatively short, and a quieter aircraft would be better for instructing a novice pilot.

Jonathan
May 7, 2022 6:02 am

The aviation press has been pushing electric airplanes for many years now. Every electric aircraft project announcement is breathlessly reported, no matter how unlikely it is. It’s a primary reason that I no longer read much of the aviation press.

The thing is, if the various problems (power density, discharge time, recharge time, and so forth) could be overcome, electric aircraft could provide some benefit, at least for light airplanes. Plus, there are, in fact, some applications where electric aircraft could work pretty well, but they’re niches in what itself is a niche, not in airliners.

May 7, 2022 6:42 am

Battery powered flight:
Politics demands that it exists.
Physics and engineering say that it can’t.
Unless the battery is nuclear and the plane is big.

Who will win? It will be fun to watch in a dark sort of way.

It’s when they realise that only a nuclear battery will work that they will be faced with the same choice as always.
What is most precious to these green gollums?
Being anti CO2 or being anti-nuclear?
And surprise surprise! It’s the same answer as always. Antinuclear is their precioussssss.
The CO2 bit is just a pantomime, a smokescreen for the underlying bring-back-feudalism agenda.

Insufficiently Sensitive
May 7, 2022 8:01 am

But such a microlight would be the perfect vehicle for a suicide crash by an environmentally-correct thinking Progressive.

Andy Pattullo
May 7, 2022 8:08 am

This is almost certainly impractical for moving people and their belongings about efficiently. I could see this potentially first becoming practical for unmanned light aircraft for surveillance or transport of light materials from place to place in certain applications.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Andy Pattullo
May 7, 2022 3:14 pm

In other words replacing an Amazon drone delivery vehicle?

DaveinCalgary
May 7, 2022 8:12 am

“It is a major achievement … But it is unlikely to be the answer to eliminate the guilt from your overseas holidays.”

At least they finally admit that the only negative effect of air travel is guilt!

Last edited 18 days ago by DaveinCalgary
Gary Pearse
May 7, 2022 8:25 am

Won’t hobbies be banned as unnecessary? To travel both ways to the airfield and not go anywhere would use up your weekly transportation quota. I’m joking, but crying at the same time.

oeman 50
May 7, 2022 8:29 am

Oh c’mon man, lighten up! All you need is a really long extension cord…..

Mike
May 7, 2022 8:33 am

An all-electric 737 could never carry any passengers. All the payload capability would be taken up by the batteries. A hydrogen-powered airplane would have the same problem – all the payload capability would be taken up by the hydrogen fuel tanks.

Reply to  Mike
May 7, 2022 8:47 am

The switchblade drones we gave to Ukraine has an electric flight motor. It can’t land, but it can crash into its target.

D Boss
May 7, 2022 8:39 am

C’mon people – do a little basic research before making claims! That only microlights are capable of battery powered flight is just not true:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiNtLBLveeM (Pipistrel Velis Electro: Cool, But Not For The U S Market)
The Pipistrel is a certified light sport aircraft (certified in Europe) that is being used for pilot training.

It is of course not practical except for limited landing training due to the energy density problem, and it costs double the avgas version. All pertinent details are discussed in the above review, dispassionately and objectively including the reviewer flying it.

My view is electric planes as electric cars, are dumb. But the technology is far ahead of the reporting in the article above.

(the Pipistrel plane in the electric version has 40% less useful load, and can only fly for 24 minutes with a 30 minute reserve power; whereas the same airframe, gasoline powered can carry more payload with full fuel, and can fly for 5 hours with a 30 minute reserve)

Reply to  D Boss
May 7, 2022 10:22 am

They claim less operating costs for the electric pilot training plane. A STOL or VTOL electric taxi will probably be used in China soon…the Chinese have been developing small drones for years and it is just a matter of expanding the scale of the drone. I really find the noise of those drones to be annoying …maybe could get to point of ignoring it.

Jonathan
Reply to  Anti-griff
May 7, 2022 1:53 pm

The problem with an electric trainer is that trainers are typically worked hard. Like one instructor and student coming in from their flight passing another student and instructor going out to the same airplane to do the preflight before their flight, hard. There really isn’t time to recharge the batteries. Smaller flight schools might not do this, but they typically don’t buy new airplanes because they are (or were) so much more expensive than used.

Of course, if the recharge time could be made similar to the time to refuel the airplane, then that might change the equation. Batteries don’t like that, though.

The other thing I need to point out is that scaling up is not a trivial exercise, not for n-copters, anyway. The payloads in those things are tiny and increasing the payload means decreasing the flight duration. They also have the issue that they operate for nontrivial amounts of time at maximum power output, which batteries tend to not like very well. They try to get around this by eliminating the weight of the human pilot, but that’s almost as hard as eliminating the human driver in a car.

Of course, it’s an open question whether or not the remaining technical challenges can be overcome. I tend to look at batteries as an essentially mature technology with only incremental improvements remaining to be made. Color me skeptical, but I don’t know that it can’t be done.

Dan
Reply to  Anti-griff
May 7, 2022 3:19 pm

They claim lower operating costs, and hide the facts that electricity is not free, and that the batteries can only be recharged about 500 times or so. A new battery pack is easily as expensive as a new engine, and the new engine will last four times as long and can be rebuilt instead of being replaced with new.

There is science denial everywhere with electric vehicles. The builders of the electric deHavilland Beaver and the Cessna Caravan admitted that they anticipated improved battery technology in the near future to make their ideas practical. They’re still waiting. Battery tech is advancing about 10% per year at the most, while we need a fivefold increase in capacity and a similar decrease in weight. Chemists keep pointing out that there are only so many electron exchanges possible in any battery, but that’s real science so it’s ignored.

Meab
Reply to  D Boss
May 7, 2022 1:05 pm

You’re missing the point. The largest electric plane ever to fly was a Cessna eCaravan. The regular Caravan typically seats 9 plus pilot, flies at 200 mph, and has a range of 1200 miles. What could the electric version do? It carried no passengers, got to 100 mph, and flew less than 50 miles. Batteries don’t come close to meeting the needs of commercial aviation and NEVER will.

In the distant future when we run out of oil, we will synthesize aviation fuels. We have the technology to do that today.

D Boss
Reply to  Meab
May 8, 2022 5:48 am

I didn’t miss any point Meab, I simply indicated the article and author of this post are misinformed about the state of the art of electric airplanes. I said specifically that I think eplanes are dumb. And I clearly stated the gasoline powered Pipistrel version with the SAME airframe has more payload capacity than the electric version, and the gasoline powered airframe can fly for 5 hours with a 30 minute reserve, whereas the electric version can only fly for 24 minutes with a 30 minute reserve.

So what point did I miss? If you cannot make a practical light trainer that competes with gasoline powered versions, you obviously cannot make any semblance of commercial aircraft…. the state of the art is a novelty and perhaps “cool” but entirely impractical, hence my stating my belief that electric cars or planes are dumb!

Meab
Reply to  D Boss
May 8, 2022 8:57 am

You accused people on this blog of being ignorant of the state-of-the-art. They’re not. People are aware that electric airplanes are a scam. People might not be aware of a particular example (of a failure) but that’s not the point.

Jonathan
Reply to  D Boss
May 7, 2022 1:29 pm

“Useful load” probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. In airplanes, “useful load” is the difference between the maximum takeoff weight and the weight of the airplane plus necessary fluids, plus unusable fuel. It represents how much weight you can trade off between payload and fuel. You’re not going to take off with zero payload and you cannot take off with zero fuel. Electric airplanes don’t have a “useful load,” they just have a “maximum payload.”

D Boss
Reply to  Jonathan
May 8, 2022 5:33 am

Jonathon: OK smart guy, I am a private pilot – owned my own airplane for a time. A PA28-140 to be precise. And have intimate knowledge of the “weight and balance” requirements for safe operation of aircraft.

Now let’s look at the POH for the Cherokee 140 shall we:

https://assets.website-files.com/5cd9f35707d65349921db6bf/5cfa581763d027196b6737c8_POH%20%20PA%2028%20-%20140%20HK-1791-G%2012%20JULIO%202018.pdf

Page 13 of the pdf lists the weight specifications:
Gross Weight (Ibs) 2150 lbs
Standard Empty Weight (Ibs) 1275 lbs
Maximum Useful Load (Ibs) 875 lbs

The useful load includes everything not bolted onto the airplane, which means fuel, passengers and baggage. PERIOD!

In addition to the maximum gross weight limitation the weight added must be placed within a specific envelope of CG (center of gravity) which can limit the value of passengers or baggage or both.

The Cherokee 140 holds 50 US gallons of fuel, including reserve. At 6.01 lbs per US gallon the full fuel tanks eats up 300.5 lbs of that useful load, leaving 574.5 lbs for passengers and baggage. (which may be less depending on where the load is located with respect to the CG limitations on weight and balance)

Furthermore on page 80 of the POH the weight and balance determinations and warnings are located, and it states the following:

“In order to achieve the performance and flying characteristics which are designed into the airplane, it must be flown with the weight and center of gravity (C.G.) position within the approved operating range (envelope). Although the airplane offers flexibility of loading, it cannot be flown with the maximum number of adult passengers, full fuel tanks and maximum baggage. With the flexibility comes responsibility. The pilot must ensure that the airplane is loaded within the loading
envelope before he makes a takeoff.”

“The licensed empty weight and C.G. location are recorded in the Weight and Balance Data Form (Page 5-7). The current values should always be used. Whenever new equipment is added or any modification work is done, the mechanic responsible for the work is required to compute a new licensed empty weight and C.G. position and to write these in the Aircraft Log Book and the Weight and Balance Data Form. The owner should make sure that it is done.

A weight and balance calculation is necessary in determining how much fuel or baggage can be boarded so as to keep within allowable limits. Check calculations prior to adding fuel to insure against improper loading.”

So I do know what an aircraft’s “useful load” is, and you obviously do not! And indeed electric airplanes do have a “useful load” as defined by FAA and EASA regulations!

George Daddis
May 7, 2022 9:36 am

“Battery powered aircraft” is mis-information. (I can use the trendy words also.)
A battery is not a source of power, it can only store power (and inefficiently at that).

What power source charges those batteries?

Chris Nisbet
May 7, 2022 9:59 am

Well, according to an article in NZ MSM, NZ climate change minister, James Shaw, “said it was entirely possible the aviation industry could decarbonise faster than the transport industry’
This was after some guy flew an electric plane over Cook Strait.

Although now I think about it, maybe that’s just an admission that the transport industry won’t be ‘decarbonising’ any time soon.

TallDave
May 7, 2022 12:58 pm

planes are another reason why we’ll transition to a biofuel economy

who wants to fly in a nuclear airplane?

Pflashgordon
Reply to  TallDave
May 7, 2022 2:27 pm

Not enough biofuel in the world to fuel the airline industry without reducing production of food, feed and fiber and causing major ecosystem disruptions. If ethanol were used to fuel its own production, it takes about 10 acres of corn to net one acre’s worth of fuel to market. Soy for biodiesel is more efficient, but the annual yield in Btus/acre is too low to fuel modern society. The same math holds, whether it is wood, algae or switchgrass. Just like wind and solar, biofuels suffer from low energy density. All driven by the sun.

Nuclear is the only viable alternative to fossil fuels in the long term. Meanwhile, we should stop wasting vast resources on unfit-for-purpose “renewables.”

Old Cocky
Reply to  Pflashgordon
May 7, 2022 3:35 pm

That’s an interesting figure on maize-based ethanol. I thought it came out about square, but I haven’t looked at it in any detail

Doug Proctor
May 7, 2022 3:22 pm

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidnikel/2021/03/11/norways-widere-could-fly-this-rolls-royce-electric-plane-by-2026/?sh=6519e7aa51a6

The Norway aircraft are designed for the 20 – 30 minutes flights. That makes sense. Don’t want unexpected headwinds or low temperatures or sudden fog at arrival, though.

The troubles E-cars have in the real world are nothing compared to a trouble at 11,000 feet.

I want kerosene.

Doug Proctor
Reply to  Doug Proctor
May 7, 2022 3:24 pm

How about all e-planes must have a 50:1 glide ratio.

Bruce
Reply to  Doug Proctor
May 7, 2022 8:07 pm

Sorry, mine is good for only 43:1.

It does take off under battery power, and has about 30 minutes cruise range after that. It is super efficient; not much scope for doing better on that aspect.

It could carry two or three times the current battery capacity if that tradeoff made sense.

Niche product.

Dan
Reply to  Doug Proctor
May 8, 2022 12:18 pm

That limits the flying to nearly windless, nearly turbulence-free days. Most small airplanes have low wing loadings, and combining that with the wingspan being long (necessary for good L/D), control in winds or turbulence becomes difficult.

Airliners have relatively good L/D ratios, but they have high wing loadings that make them punch through the rougher stuff without too much trouble.

JoeG
May 7, 2022 3:33 pm

We need Tesla’s scheme of broadcasting electricity for electrical aviation

R K
May 8, 2022 12:07 am

Ideas of large aircraft using batteries are absolute nonsense. With 56 years of aviation behind me and a long airline career, I can say those pushing this stuff have no idea of the power equirements that are required from the engines on airline aircraft. Very considerable amounts of hydraulic power are required to get the landing gear up quickly, especially with engine failures and for terrain clearance.
Pressurization and air conditioning need continuous input and on entering cloud below 10C engine anti icing must be used. Imagine the battery power required to provide instantaneous heat into the engine nacelles and guide vanes and in deteriating conditions to protect the wing and tail plane leading edges as well.It couldn’t be done.
It doesn’t bear thinking about to be in thunderstorm conditions or near them to be relying on battery power and be hit by lightning. What a delusional world these people inhabit.

Dan
Reply to  R K
May 8, 2022 12:23 pm

Well said. I once calculated the kWh needed to equal a 777’s engine power. It’s awesome, and even if the whole airplane was full of the best batteries, no room for anything else, it wouldn’t be anywhere near equal.

Green wishful thinking and reality are two trains on the same track heading toward each other at high speed. The collision is going to be spectacular. Places like Germany are beginning to see it coming, yet the physics-challenged politicians are still hoping for miracles.

Michael S. Kelly
May 8, 2022 5:19 pm

OTOH, there’s this: https://youtu.be/LV9qrUSWhoA

So awesomely cool! But at $92,000 a copy, a bit out of my reach.

Dennis
May 8, 2022 10:12 pm

A most important factor in commercial transportation is “payload”, which is of course the weight of passengers and/or cargo that can be transported profitably.

A battery pack with long range capacity reduces the payload.

James
May 9, 2022 9:06 am

So 30 minutes reserve required for a VFR flight. So plan on 3 minute flights then! Better get good at off field landings, and will the RAA (AAA or AA) come and charge you back up so you can get to the next aiport?

Jon R
May 9, 2022 6:18 pm

United Airlines says they’re gonna have this by 2030.

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