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back to article Boeing's Honda-FCX-style fuel cell glider 'success'

US aerospace colossus Boeing has at last successfully trialled a manned fuel-cell hybrid electric plane produced by its Spanish research facility, according to reports. The company told Flight International that it had carried out several test flights in the vicinity of Ocaña airfield south of Madrid. A modified motor-glider …

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Ummm

Surely the key phrase here is "modified motor-glider"???? Surely it only needs power for the flaps, etc as it.. well... glides?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ummm

"Surely the key phrase here is "modified motor-glider"????"

Yes, the keyphrase is indeed 'motor-glider', ie, it has a motor / engine. Not all motor gliders have flaps, and the ailerons etc are all done mechanically, by pushrods, anyway.

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No thermals?

Call me cynical but as a glider pilot I remain unconvinced.

An unpowered glider could have made that flight, without any power source, under a decent cloud street using energy from thermals.

Choosing to do it in the middle of Spain in spring was never going to be that convincing. An overcast day like today in the UK would have been a better choice.

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Thumb Up

Motor-glider

Well, big deal. I can manage straight and level flight with a glider (admittedly you need solar power in the form of thermals). Oh, and I need power for the variometer, the noisy electrical ones (with GPS and McCready calculator) are nice...

Still: Fuel cells and engines are (too) heavy and I see this as a big improvement!

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oh, hang gliders!

Take some balsa wood, tissue paper, glue and aerodope: now find the plans for the "Skylon" free-flight, (nearly) glider. Build same. Instead of an ED Bee 1 c.c. engine, put a little d.c. motor on the engine mounts, and shove a propellor on the shaft: place around eight square inches of 1980s solar cell on the wing upper surfaces and solder leads to your motor. Put a small switch in if you want. It's probably better if you offset the rudder to make the plane fly in circles.

Launch your plane by hand on a sunny day. With just a small dihedral, she will climb gracefully up into the oggin, and won't come down til nightfall.

Who says you need money to build an electric plane?

Incidentally, without the rudder offset, you'll spend all day running for miles and miles and miles, because the bugger will not stop.

Not the sort of kite to carry a small strategic nuke, so it can't cause much harm, and the USG probably won't break your door down to borrow it to fly in Iraq.

Woops, - I should not have said that! (To quote Hagrid).

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Sam

Am I missing something?

As in cover the wings with solar cells?

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Anonymous Coward

exercise bikes

perhaps, they will have stationary bicycles on commercial aircraft for passengers to power electronics and what not to save fuel. Regardless, ticket prices will continue to go up.

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Anonymous Coward

@Kevin Wood

The keyword is "straight and level flight"

Could a glider fly, maintaining the same flight level, maintaining the same direction?

A direction that you choose rather than the limitation of thermals etc...

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@Ouldbob

"she will climb gracefully up into the oggin"

Since oggin=sea, that's not really the destination you want...

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Coat

Heh

"Powered flaps"...

Mine's the mac.

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real progress comes in steps, cynical folks

as a previous poster mentioned, current hybrid systems are way too heavy for their power output. To loft a functional one-and RTFA, it says they used this hybrid system to get it to altitude too (charging the batts with the hybrid motor on the ground is still as "hybrid" as those plug-in Priuses and a whole lot more "hybrid" than driving your car to the top of a mountain and then advertising 100MPG only on the trip down) and maintained level flight. The motor glider option was for when or if the power system failed.

This is as technically important as the first flown nuclear reactor. That one didn't actually power the aircraft (according to official documents anyways) but to make one operational and flight worthy was a major technical challenge.

now that they've gotten off the ground with this step, they've showed investors and others that there is a possibility to the technology. And that's a good first step.

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Re: exercise bikes

Made me laugh.

"If you want to live, pedal faster you lazy bastards, pedal faster!"

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Sneaky

This fuel-cell technology demonstrator is aimed at the urban-warfare small RPV drone market, something Boeing has a lot of interest in. A fuel-cell generator makes no audible noise unlike the small gas turbine engines used in current RPVs and it will work at night unlike a glider-type drone designed to use only solar cells.

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@ exercise bikes

Wouldn't work where it was needed - all those morbidly obese bastards that whine that they have to pay for two seats every time they fly wouldn't be able to pedal fast enough and long enough to generate sufficient power to offset their own excess weight, let alone provide enough of a surplus to power in-flight electronics.

If we had some means of generating electricity by blobbing-out on a couch and stuffing your face with Twinkies they could power the next Shuttle mission.

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Dead Vulture

Performance comparison to man-muscle-powered glider

What have been the maximum altitudes of the human-powered airplane flights? Do most of them even leave ground-effect?

(Buzzard because they like to thermal, too.)

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Anonymous Coward

Man powered flight...

is definitely not practicable for regular use. But electric flight is much stealthier than engine drive, the only downside had been the power source. The fuel cell had been on the cards for some time and now seems one step closer to practical realisation. If only they could get it off H2 this might be the real thing.

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oggin

to Graham: not if you're a flyboy it ain't. It's up in the bright shiny blue.

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