A Case for an Electric Gyroplane Seaplane

Hodag

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A Case for an Electric Gyroplane Seaplane - to be built by the gyroplane industry,
And to be certified with Standard Airworthiness and for commercial use by the FAA
(Or, If You’re Going to Dream, Dream Big)

The certification of an electric gyroplane seaplane for commercial use would enhance safety, revenue and access to general aviation. This sort of aircraft would dramatically enhance safety, reducing many pilot-induced and non-pilot induced fatalities and injuries. In addition, it could be used to save lives. It would also increase the revenue of general aviation through lower operating costs, including fewer lost aircraft, through access to new markets where present aircraft are prohibited, and through the emergence of many new commercial operations. A certified electric gyroplane seaplane would attract interest from new segments of the population to general aviation thanks to its low operating costs, unique utility and sustainability. First detailing the advantages of each aspect, the primary arguments against are addressed below, followed by research suggestions.

Advantages of an electric power plant in an LSA aircraft-
No Engine- Total electrical failure is less common than a “reciprocating” engine failure, which is the leading cause of non-pilot-induced fatalities in general aviation. An industrial electric motor can last much longer than the best internal combustion engine (ICE), even one with a 2000-hour Time between Overhauls (TBO). An electric motor has far fewer moving parts than an engine. An electric motor and propeller designed for regenerative braking could extend the duration of flight. An automatically-folding propeller would possibly allow ballistic parachutes to be used in gyroplanes if the propeller can stop spinning abruptly with the power cut, or if a useful attitude could be achieved through winglets or other means. Although, some means of management for a potentially failed rotor may still be necessary. However, no engine warm-ups or cool-downs would be required, and therefore there would be less energy used and no Cuisinart effect on the ramp or dock to passersby or passengers during those idle times. “…Clear Prop Again!” There is never any carbon build-up on an electric motor. Power to a soft-start electric prerotation system in an electric gyroplane could bypass the propeller until needed via the controller, avoiding redundant battery systems. Regenerative rotor braking should also be considered to scavenge the maximum energy. Perhaps the Hobbs meter would simply record when the electrical system is active.

Not only has the Auto-Gyro Cavalon Pro gained a Certificate of Airworthiness (CofA) in the U.K. through Rotorsport, but it is researching an e-Cavalon with an 80 kW motor and 45-minute duration. (http://www.auto-gyro.com/chameleon/...015_Press-release_AutoGyro-flies-electric.pdf)

Void in the Market- The time is now for lightweight single- and two-place electric aircraft motors, especially after production ceased on two of the most popular reciprocating power plants for ultralights and ultralight trainers. Once close electric and hybrid motor replacements for our most common power ranges become available, any existing aircraft design could most efficiently and safely convert at TBO time, saving much of the design cost and pilot training over a completely new aircraft. Zero Motorcycles happens to use two motors that could serve as replacements for common small aircraft engines, past and present. Two-seat gyroplanes may be closer in power levels to small electric cars like the Nissan Leaf. Although, low-RPM, lightweight aviation motors would still be preferred.

It’s cheaper- Common commercially available engines for LSAs cost $25,000-$30,000 USD or more, especially after adding exhaust, filters, carburetors and gauges etc. An electric motor, controller, battery pack and inverter would cost less to fill the same space even with today’s technology and would be comparatively much cheaper to fly and maintain after the initial investment. Battery cycles are typically between 800-3000 hours, which is a lifetime at the 50 hours-per-year average, but that average would increase with the availability of exciting, new, low-cost aircraft. Replacing a battery pack after 2000 hours as if you would replace a reciprocating engine at its TBO would cost about half as much even including motor maintenance, perhaps.

Here is an estimate from March, 2015 of the operating costs for the Pipistrel gas-powered Alpha vs. the Alpha Electro: (http://www.avweb.com/blogs/insider/Will-2015-See-Deliverable-Electric-Airplanes-223695-1.html). Some types of batteries are completely recyclable and restorable to new functionality with no waste and possibly even less cost. There is still a wide open market for new electric motors, controllers and battery packs for aviation, but indeed new systems are popping up more and more frequently, driving competition, innovation and price in a budding industry.

No power loss at high density altitudes- Even turbocharged engines lose power at altitude because even they ultimately rely on air density. Electric motors work deep undersea in mini submarines, in surface boats and in satellites in geosynchronous orbit. But I believe the small gyroplane community are fine keeping between Class A airspace, which starts at 18,000’ Mean Sea Level (MSL), and the water’s surface. Obviously, electric gyroplanes would still be altitude-limited by the rotor lift, propeller thrust, battery life, available on-board oxygen or other factors, unless Elon Musk buys Cartercopter or something.

No fuel- Some deaths are not caused by impact after an emergency landing, but by the combustible fuel required for flight, on which many gyroplane pilots sit. Batteries are much less volatile. Fuel systems can be fouled with water, sediment or an unusable type of fuel. Electric aerobatic missions would not rely on fallible pressurized fuel systems. Petroleum products are known carcinogens. Wars are fought for fuel in which people die. CO2 emissions are human-caused factors to climate change. Fewer emissions are produced from charging a battery, even with dirty coal. Fuel is expensive and less abundant than other energy sources. Fuel prices will eventually start to increase due to the decreasing supply of a finite resource; however, the reverse is true for the price of electric aircraft systems, which can be powered from a growing number of sustainable sources for a growing world market. Although fuel is, relative to current battery and super-capacitor technology, more energy-dense at present, this will change soon due to high demand, intense research and competition. At that point, not even duration will be an issue.

Easier Weights and Balances- Without fuel to burn off and a shifting CG, aircraft can be built to maximum efficiency and safety. This also slightly reduces pilot workload and chance of pilot error on weight and balance calculations, especially in a single-seat aircraft with no cargo space. Safety could be engineered into the design. Battery packs should be modular and easily replaceable for “hot swapping” between flight training sessions or consecutive flights. They should also be expandable, for replacing a passenger seat with an extra “long range” battery pack with an adaptable built-in quick charger for cross country flights. Battery packs could be shaped and contoured to be added wherever ballast is needed for increased safety, efficiency, portability and customizability. If any two-seat gyroplanes are slightly less stable with one occupant, extra battery packs could be a convenient remedy. Modular designs allow for technological improvements to be easily substituted in the future.

Eco-friendly- Electric motors are much quieter than ICE technology, regardless of exhaust used. Noise abatement for people and all other fauna becomes less of a concern with electric motors. Hearing loss for pilots and passengers becomes less of a concern. A low RPM electric motor can be matched to a low RPM propeller to increase the quietude and save the weight, cost, extra risk, extra noise, extra vibration and power loss of a reduction drive. A quiet, zero-emissions seaplane could potentially open new markets in natural reserve areas for eco-tourism, or educational, or governmental (public) use missions. Gliders, which are already the most environmentally-friendly type of aircraft, are also the first in line to get electric propulsion. Zero-emission aircraft now will help ensure future generations can keep flying.

See the end of this video for a demonstration of the potential decibel levels of a low RPM direct-drive electric system, and note the asymmetric propeller from Electravia, the Excalibur 4 QD2. This 75 HP motor would provide ample power for a single-seat gyroplane on floats and is detunable via the controller for ultralight use. The battery pack only weighs 60 pounds because it is only five volumetric gallons to meet FAA Ultralight requirements. A larger pack would be needed for European-sized Ultralights. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMIDfce5az8)

More Fun- An electric aircraft would potentially have fewer gauges on a more streamlined instrument panel, reducing pilot workload and increasing time enjoying the flight in a quieter ride. Replacing CHTs, EGTs, fuel flow meter, fuel level gauge, manifold pressure gauge, etc. with an electric monitoring system for batteries, the controller and the motor, a streamlined panel would also allow more valuable space for radios or a larger MGL Avionics Electronic Flight Information System (EFIS). An EFIS is a digital display with compass, airspeed, altimeter, rotor RPM and G-meter gauges along with attitude indicator and moving map display, to name a few options that could further improve cockpit resource management and enjoyment, potentially in a small, open-cockpit aircraft with a loose article catcher close behind. Perhaps MGL can develop an integrated electric power plant management option. Hint, hint.

No Carb Ice- Carburetor Ice alone has caused countless deaths of people who share my love of flying. “But…many engines are fuel-injected or have carb heat!” (True, but see the first point, as well as all the others). There is no possibility of carburetor ice on an electric aircraft- more lives saved.

Better for Commercial Use- Thanks to the added quiet and safety of an electric motor with no engine to fail, fuel to combust, carburetor to freeze, and in addition to simplified weight and balance calculations and operating procedures, and to the affordability and enjoyability, small electric aircraft are perfectly suited to perform commercial operations like “nonstop” commercial air tours (those for-hire sightseeing flights that take off and land at the same place) and many other short-range applications such as quiet flight training or a fast, on-demand “VIP” shuttle service…Uber-Gyros?

Advantages of Gyroplanes as Light Sport Aircraft (Or, Preaching to the Choir)-
Safer- Gyroplanes are always in autorotation, can land with zero roll without injury in the event of power failure and do not stall. Gyroplanes have fewer moving parts than helicopters and fewer things to go wrong. One and two place gyroplanes are inherently much safer than helicopters, and could take better advantage of the design benefits if an adequate network of flight instructors, manufacturers and commercial industry was built up. This would surely happen if the regulations allowed it. U.S. gyroplane manufacturers have not prepared to compete in this exploding market by offering turn-key aircraft mainly due to regulatory difficulties in the USA.

More useful- Generally, gyroplanes have more useful load, use less energy, go faster and are cheaper to maintain, operate and purchase and can operate in higher winds than helicopters which are already certified for broad commercial use by the FAA. (I have to mention though, “Props,” to Composite-FX for offering a sweet, safe, affordable helicopter- The Mosquito!)

The end-user unit price would likely skyrocket through the normal certification process in the USA, even though the whole point of LSA is to attract people to general aviation and improve access. Millionaires with a penchant for flight are likely already quite familiar with aviation and need no such stimulus other than their own whimsy. The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) recently implemented a rule-change to allow commercial gyroplanes. We need to find the most affordable solutions over the life of a vehicle, and most modern gyroplanes in use are already smaller and cheaper than the typical aircraft marketed as “LSA” which are closer to the maximum weight allowed for LSA (600 kg, or 650 kg for seaplanes,) partially because European gyroplanes have the lower limits (560 kg). For this reason, 560 kg would be a better target for American gyroplane manufacturers for a booming international market, which is a weight class that has been proven successful many times over. The combination of safety, affordability and flexibility of a small gyroplane offers a wider variety of commercial uses than either a helicopter or an airplane and will allow entry into aviation for many more pilots and passengers.

Even More fun- The ability of a gyroplane to make emergency landings in small confines and to safely and confidently hug the height/velocity curve allows for low and slow flying, and yet the large speed envelope allows for exhilarating blasts of speed. The expansive views are as good as they are in any other aircraft. The gyroplane is the perfect vehicle to attract people to general aviation and to generate new revenue streams- which is also very fun.

Advantages of Seaplanes-
Less Drowning- Some general aviation deaths are caused by drowning after an emergency landing on water. Seaplanes, whether floatplanes or “flying boats” (Imagine the gyroplane version of the Icon A5) can stay afloat, at least long enough for occupants to escape to a raft or to activate or access floatation devices (which are required for all seaplane occupants) or to call for help. Electric gyroplane seaplanes could be used for search and rescue or surveying, making stable platforms for FLIR, LIDAR or other cameras. A fleet of these aircraft worldwide would make an impact after a hurricane, tsunami or other flooding event, having the Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) capability to go where a boat might not, or simply in addition to the available rescue boats. A seaplane can be a life saver if you live in or near a watery area, and not just for you.

More landing areas- Coastal and inland water is more or less level and at a low sea state, allowing for many safe places for landings, both emergency and non-emergency. (Always get a weather brief.) However, the ability to make an emergency spot landing in unexpectedly rougher seas without chopping the tops off 50 wave crests is also an advantage of gyroplane seaplanes. You never have to maintain an airstrip with a seaplane, just get a trailer or waterfront property and avoid airport fees and airspace. Get shore power (or pump gas) at the marina. Add amphibious, or retractable, gear for a true all-terrain magic carpet. The Full Lotus straight floats can make an emergency landing on dry land, just don’t expect to take off as easily without amphibs or jump takeoff. At least one gyroplane has been used to determine daily beach populations for the tourism industry, which would be best done with a seaplane.

Yet More Fun- Seaplane pilots can legally fly any altitude over open water, with airspace and obstacle exceptions of course. Shorelines are beautiful and often full of activity that could more safely be avoided with a seaplane. Maybe we could try open-cockpit fishing with an underslung live well (because fish guts and avionics don’t mix.) I will concede real mosquitos are not so beautiful. Seaplanes would seem to be in higher relative demand for air tour operations especially.

The Argument against Electric-
No cross country flying! This is the same argument used against electric cars, with less justification. General aviation pilots fly an average of 50 hours per year, or one hour per week, so in broad strokes- it’s a non-issue as far as viability. A pilot could charge up on external and/ or on-board solar panels even if it took all week before the next weekend flight. Extended range batteries with a built-in quick charger would help this issue. Also, having an electric aircraft charging infrastructure at public airports and seaplane bases would help this issue. Hybrids should be used for cross country missions outside the range of pure electric aircraft until the energy density from batteries and super-capacitors combined with increased solar panel and paint efficiency can compete against hybrids on flights of greater distances. Hybrids could still accept the same extended range battery packs as pure electric models. Regenerative braking could also be used on the rotor brake, but It is unlikely that regenerative wheel brakes would be productive on a zero-roll gyroplane. Horizontal stabilizers should have solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for additional range, for emergency power to call for help, or for work-week charging on the ramp. Small PV panels and solar paint would take a very long time to supply a useful charge, but you would never be permanently stranded at sea as you might if you were out of fuel in a remote area. Minimally, an emergency kit should be designed with a large pop-up solar panel for those emergency landings where take-off is still possible, which is more likely in a gyroplane. Also, the more we support electric (ground) vehicles (EVs), the faster the battery and super-capacitor technology will improve for aviation.
But firstly, the restriction that an LSA have a reciprocating engine needs to be addressed by the FAA to allow for safe, simple electric aircraft.

The Argument against Gyroplanes-
No FAA approval! It seems that if you want FAA approval, you have to create a fully-articulated gyroplane with adjustable rotor pitch and jump-takeoff capability, which would preclude LSA status presently. The gyroplanes formerly certified in the USA had these features, and it seems obvious on reading the FAA Rotorcraft Flying Handbook that they still cater the manual to those technologies, but they also address the others (except electric propulsion) as an aside. We all would like the ability to have jump takeoff, but it adds weight, cost and complexity that is not essential for LSA aircraft. Single- and two-seat gyroplanes already have short takeoff rolls with simple prerotation. Adding jump takeoff to every gyroplane would greatly limit their inherent versatility, reliability, useful load and cost advantages over helicopters.

That said, someone make a good jump-drive system available to the public at affordable prices! Any gyroplane with composite rotors, like an ultra-stable Magnigyro, would seem like the best candidate for jump takeoff, with high-inertia rotors to help carry rotor RPM through the transition to forward flight, and would never really need amphibious gear. Hint, hint.

The Argument against Seaplanes-
Floats raise my precious thrust-line! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iz-8CSa9xj8) A few gyroplane designs have demonstrated agility and ease on the water with floats merely added on, in particular, the amazing Sportcopter Vortex (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKD-zf41xQA) and the beautiful Auto-Gyro GmbH MTO Sport (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw7uWwgSArc) and sleek Calidus (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVe_m_zXbDk) and the powerful Xenon, with a suitably high horizontal stabilizer for seaplane use (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8Po9W36Wzo). The Full Lotus floats often used in this weight range are said to enhance cruise performance, despite the increased drag; can add lift, negating much of the extra weight in flight; and would seem to add longitudinal flight stability and act as additional “horizontal stabilizer” surface. Also, there are Bensen Gyrocopters still flying after decades which do not have Center Line Thrust (CLT) and have no horizontal stabilizer, although they are much closer to CLT than a gyroplane with added-on floats. Admittedly, floats do increase weight, drag and raise the thrust-line, which has a disadvantage of automatically and dangerously deflecting pitch with changes in power output. Unlike a fixed-wing aircraft and without major compensations, an increase in power in a high thrust-line gyroplane causes a nose dive, or nose up attitude when power is withdrawn. (Please get thoroughly checked out in any new aircraft.) But to those in areas where seaplanes are allowed, it may be worth the low price of admission to fly one with floats. Magnigyro’s composite rotors and propellers would seem to weather salt water exposure better than aluminum for a purpose-built coastal seaplane. However, no manufacturer has made a pure marine version of a gyroplane.

Research Suggestions-
Any entity with the engineering aptitude should make an electric gyroplane seaplane. Perhaps it could be a flying-boat type gyroplane with CLT, a design which could help with sea spray on the propeller and rotor despite the lower position in the water, or perhaps an enhanced floatplane that will take advantage of a potentially lighter electric power plant to have an in-flight-adjustable or directional thrust-line. But here are a few more likely individual design possibilities:

• Pure electric gyroplane seaplane with tandem seating for beach cruising, also available as hybrid;
• Hobbs meter that counts time on the electrical system;
• Hot-swappable main battery pack for pure electric model;
• Modular, long-range battery pack with built-in quick charger that replaces the passenger, passenger seat and possibly passenger controls on solo excursions;
• Water rudder(s) for prerotation or possible jump-take-off;
• Drain plugs in the floor;
• Tie-down cleats on floats or airframe, especially if using folding rotor;
• Regenerative braking in a quiet, low-RPM direct-drive electric or hybrid system;
• Regenerative rotor braking for use after landing when approaching dock;
• Amphibious landing gear with standard drum wheel brakes;
• Salt-water-resistant propeller and rotor, likely composite;
• Water-resistant instrument panel and avionics compartment;
• Solar panels mounted on a high horizontal stabilizer to avoid sea spray;
• Strong, structural tow hook at the bow or front landing gear spar for ramp loading or emergency towing;
• Optional canopy or doors that could also be easily opened if capsized;
• Ducted or shrouded propeller to further avoid sea spray, decrease noise levels, reduce risk of injury, and possibly afford center-line thrust;
• Retractable, gimbaled nose mount for certain camera-based missions;
• Retractable hydrofoils, if a flying boat hull, for rough water take-off, landing and fast-taxiing capability;
• Emergency kit that includes a pop-up solar collector, a rescue whistle or compressed air horn, SPOT or other EPIRB, and/ or a hand-operated bilge pump; in addition to flares, signaling mirror, paddle/hook, inflatable life vests and the usual seaplane items, as well as supplemental oxygen and/or a small anchor for mooring where needed; (Note: composite/aluminum “hard” floats often have storage space between the bulkheads, which also takes weight off the suspension while taxiing without compromising much of the buoyancy.)
• Folding rotor, propeller and/ or mast, like the Pal-V or many RC models, so that it could more easily fit in a garage, hangar, small boat slip, dinghy elevator, davit system, dry dock, or the limited deck space of a small boat.

What say we stop dropping out of the sky and let our passion fuel our bank accounts for once?
 
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WaspAir

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I think you have a few items wrong:
More useful- Generally, gyroplanes have more useful load, use less energy, go faster and are cheaper to maintain, operate and purchase and can operate in higher winds than helicopters which are already certified for broad commercial use by the FAA.
Gyros are inherently less efficient, and don't stack up well for energy use, speed, or load, when compared to helicopters of equivalent size and power. If you're proposing Standard Airworthiness for the gyro to qualify it for commercial use (as I understand your idea), then a fair comparison would require apples to apples, and you'll see weight go up, load go down, speed go down, etc., until the gyro no longer looks competitive with the helicopter in performance. Your statement about winds doesn't match my experience in gyros and helicopters.

Adding jump takeoff to every gyroplane would greatly limit their inherent versatility
Jump take-off adds to versatility -- that's the reason one provides for it.



Otherwise, as soon somebody finds me a battery pack that will give me 2-3 hours endurance, I'm in. That may take a few years, and/or Elon Musk, to come to fruitiion.
 

Hodag

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WaspAir,

Thanks for the good reply. Perhaps I overstated the gyroplane's advantages.

By "versatility," I probably meant "useful load." Although the larger gyros, like yours would barely notice the weight. Or maybe that's why it weighs so much. Or I may have meant that in order to cover expense of the vehicle and make a profit, you would not want a gas guzzler. Kids on the beach can't afford much for a 15 min sightseeing ride.

I believe with today's technology, you could get 2 hours duration in a 2 seat, by filling the passenger compartment with an optional 200-pound battery pack.
 
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fara

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I don't want to refute some claims made point by point. The list would be long and take more time than I have and I don't mean to be discouraging either.
Here are some basic fundamental facts before anyone goes down this road

1) Electric batteries for weight is much heavier energy delivery system today than chemical delivery
2) There is no basis for certification right now for electric powerplant with FAA or EASA. This will change slowly. Boeing battery fires really did not help this as they put egg on FAA's face. Airbus is testing a twin electric motorglider right now
3) Gyroplane is about the worse culprit to prove the electric concept. Its worse than motorgliders, worst than airplanes, worst than trikes. All of whom are more efficient "EASILY" than a gyroplane. First we should prove the viability of this concept in motorgliders, trikes and airplanes before moving it to power gyroplanes. Right now the viability is questionable. Its heavier with limited range and as expensive. The fire or explosive danger is still there too in current battery technology. Yuneec is a company that I worked a little bit with who created a single seat and then a dual seat motor glider. Single seat was design was by an American designer who is a friend of mine and well known in LSA circles. They got a DULV cert for the single seat in Germany but FAA shoo'd them off basically.
4) There are some companies working on electric powered standard category airplanes in the US. They have "BIG" money behind them. Wait for them. If they can't do it, no one else can either at this point.
5) Floats of any type absolutely positively DO NOT enhance performance takeoff, climb, cruise or otherwise by any stretch of imagination whether it be a MTO or anything else. Don't drink the koolaid. Get a reality check and I mean that in the most sincere manner. Floats on any aircraft are almost always a compromise. Water T/O and landings are a lot of fun but you pay for that fun in the air and in stability.

We have already done electric single seat trikes and even a Hydrogen fuel cell powered trike. I wouldn't do that in a gyroplane. Not everything needs to be done in a gyroplane when its not the right vehicle to prove the concept.
 
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Hodag

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Fara,

Thanks for the reply.
1) Fuel is about 6 times more energy dense at present, but that is rapidly changing, and fuel will not improve much.
2) It is my hope to draw awareness to this.
3) I think the zero-landing roll makes it a perfect test bed, and a gyro could definitely enjoy less vibration without an engine or reduction drive, not to mention the sound decibels, but your points are taken.
4) Seimens and Airbus crossed the English Channel, to the chagrin of Pipistrel. I'll repost this link to demonstrate an example of small scale R&D in progress. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMIDfce5az8)
5) I already conceded that in my original post.

"Admittedly, floats do increase weight, drag and raise the thrust-line, which has a disadvantage of automatically and dangerously deflecting pitch with changes in power output."

But people who want to go fast generally do not choose gyroplanes or seaplanes. I see it as a match of the misfit toys. The perfect vehicle for beach patrol, low and slow.
 
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fara

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I am happy that you have passion and want to bring awareness to this but I think battery technology is decades away from getting close to gasoline power density for the unit weight.
Why does the zero roll landing make gyroplanes any better candidate for test bed though?

Gerard Thevenot crossed the English channel in his alternate powered trike years before Siemens, Pipestrel and Airbus. Usually the electric power has taken the same route as BRS parachutes. Trikes than airplane and then others. Its been 8 to 9 years (may be 10) when the first electric powered commercially available ultralight trike became available. Then it was on to airplane and then motorgliders
 

Hodag

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Fara,
Thanks for the welcome!

I do not think it will be decades. Tesla is on a mission for cost, I am hoping weight follows shortly after.

When testing a new propulsion system that could fail, I would want to be able to land anywhere.

How many hours do you fly on average in a gyroplane? Auto-Gyro already has one now with 45 min range, not including my concept for an extra battery pack. Similar to the way Norman Surplus carries extra fuel.
 
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TJPUMPHREY

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ONE OF THE ONLY WAYS YOU WILL SAVE GENERAL AVIATION is through the use of electric motors. Using electric motors on gyroplanes is not out of the question. Battery technology will only get better because we live in a battery hungry society. How realistic is it to reclaim power from the already spining rotor which is giant windmill. Having a boat gyroplane
with the use of carbon fiber materials made through the use of additive manufacturing could be in the near future if you drive and push the technology. That is happening all over the world for both battery technology and additive manufacturing. Some electric motors that are being produced specifically for ultralight aircraft have a 3:1 hp to weight ratio. Evolving electric motor, computer and additive manufacturing technology will improve battery density.
THE OTHER WAY TO SAVE GENERAL AVIATION. Well, fly gyroplanes!!! Gyroplanes are easier to build than fixed wing. Are easier to fly than fixed wing aircraft. Are more affordable than a fixed wing aircraft. Are easier to tow. Take up less space in the hanger. More fun. Are more simple than fix wing. Way not 3d print rotor blades or laser sinter a rotor hub out of titanium. Just to name a few. I agree with Hodag. You must drive and push the technology. SEE THE ATTACHED INFORMATION ON ELECTRIC AIRCRAFT.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMIDfce5az8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogx48kBEgQUhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiADDbeFanU
 

Hodag

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Thanks for the post TJ,
My thinking was that regenerative motor and rotor braking would be especially useful if you're coming in to pick up a new passenger every 15-30 min.
Those links were part of my research. Good stuff.
 
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TJPUMPHREY

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With small electric motors you can have distributive propulsion that can be used to
lower your thrust line for a gyroboatplane. actually you could put two duct fan
motors in that carbon fiber fuselage that I was talking about.
Distributive propulsion is something that NASA is working on with some of there uav test aircraft. Putting nine motors on each wing. They have also tested the old tilt wing concept from the 1950's and 60's (see below).
For now I will have to use a 2 cycle engine for my gyro. Either way putting more gyros in the air is better for
all of aviation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-Wdii8-jd8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXql26sF5uc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xluZ74K5818
 

Hodag

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Thanks TJ,

Two or more motors is definitely possible- The Airbus E-Fan looks like an electric A-10- but most GA pilots do not have a multi-engine rating.

This endeavor would best best done by an existing gyroplane Aerospace/ Aeronautical Engineer (What it used to be called), by supplying a Marine Engineer the useful airspeeds and attitudes most common when taxiing, especially airspeeds and angles of attack during touchdown and rotation on take-off, primary taxiing speed, center of gravity and displacement. Aerodynamic and weight issues would need coordination as well.

The new electric power plant and battery packs could be built by an Electrical Engineer, given the ideal nominal (continuous) and maximum power and torque curves desired, as well as ideal propeller RPM and rotor brake torque ranges.

There are some companies like the French firm Electravia that make "the lightest e-props", or "les hélices les plus légers," for the ultralight industry already.

Once replacement propulsion packages with motors, controllers and perhaps matched propellers are developed that mirror or exceed the common small aircraft engines' thrust ranges, no further planning should be required for straight replacement motors. Then every homebuilder of existing aircraft could simpy purchase and install the product off-the shelf.

Support could entail recharging or recycling old batteries or just offering a monthly lease, like the Nissan Leaf (http://www.plugincars.com/nissan-announces-leaf-lease-only-battery-replacement-program-127571.html), so the latest technology would always be available, since the technology is changing rapidly.
 
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Fly Army

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Wow, where were you when I needed someone to write my college papers ? Quite a proclaimation you have there. Are you aware that no body of water in the state of Colorado is approved for seaplane/amphibious aircraft landing ? Also if an experimental aircraft has more than one engine it does not require the pilot to possess a multi-engine rating.
 

Hodag

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Thanks, Fly Army.

I have invested some thought on this.

Yes I am aware of Colorado's water landing restriction. They do not have tourist beaches here either, but we could enjoy the high-altitude performance from an electric motor.

I am no expert on FARs or anything else, thanks for the info. Two motors could allow great water handling, just like a catamaran. Vertical control surfaces should be placed behind the props for best effect, whether one or two. Tail booms could be the opposite, two booms if using one motor, etc. The regenerative braking propeller would also give great speed control when approaching the dock. Just as TJ pointed out, the power directability could theoretically be used for an optional water motor, like a Torqeedo.

To see one of these contraptions quietly hanging in the air would be eerie, like science fiction.
 
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Hodag

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Also, I am requesting a standard airworthiness certificate for on demand charters or any other "normal" use. Experimental are certainly welcome to try anything, but I personally could not afford a high tech gyroplane unless it would pay for itself.
 
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Hodag

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If I am standing on a beach, and can only afford one seaplane ride and the choices were- a crowded Beaver, an ultralight or an electric MTO Sport that could take me someplace exclusive, you can guess who is getting my business.

Places that come to mind for new markets- two sections of the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park (currently off-limits- probably to do with altitude and noise), St John U.S.V.I at the former seaplane base or Bonaire (not part of the USA). Obviously only two of these would need seaplanes.

...Not to mention Yellowstone, The Everglades (flying air boat) or any other National Park.
 
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Hodag

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Thanks for the reply, hillberg.
It would cost less - see "It's cheaper"
It is eco-friendly -see "Eco-Friendly"
It probably will not get certified in the USA, but it might happen everywhere else.
I will remain hopeful.
 
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PW_Plack

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Wow. I can see you put lots of thought into this, but there are too many statements not supported by data. Your personal affection for the seaplane idea is at odds with your other goals, creating some odd logical collisions.

A set of Full Lotus floats on a small gyro is likely to be dramatically destabilizing. They add 100 pounds to a 300-400-pound gyro, and while they have no effect on the thrustline, they do lower the CG by a foot or more on such a single-place machine. I know of very few float gyro conversions, but of those with which I am familiar, at least two have wound up inverted in water with the pilot seats submerged. I would predict an increase in drownings, not a decrease, if gyro seaplanes become popular. There are arguments you could make in favor of gyro seaplanes, but safety is not one of them!

The Rotax 900 series engines can reliably reach and often exceed their TBO. Electric motors suitable for aircraft propulsion undoubtedly could, too, but the batteries are a different story. I'm not aware of any current battery technology with state-of-the art power density which can keep its as-new capacity through 2,667 deep-discharge cycles (2,000 hours in 45-minute cycles).

State-of-the-art battery tech is, so far, not eco-friendly. The ability to recycle does not even reach that of lead-acid. It is also not safer than gasoline in a crash.

The idea that regeneration can produce perpetual motion-style range extension suggests a misunderstanding of physics. If you withdraw power from the rotor on descent, your descent rate will increase. (Ask anyone who's accidentally left a rotor brake engaged during flight.) The energy you withdraw from the rotor will require a later start to your descent, and the power harvested will be less than 100% of what you put in to remain at cruise altitude longer.

I believe the tech is currently there to create a low-maintenance, inexpensive, electric, single-place gyro with a 45-minute endurance, suitable for recreational use, especially if it's based at a hangar with 220-volt AC mains power. One electric motorglider brought to Oshkosh a few years ago flew over five hours on a battery with 55 minutes' capacity by exploiting thermals. The viability for commercial use, and the viability in something as draggy as a gyro, are likely a generation or more in the future.
 

TJPUMPHREY

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Good luck on getting all you engineers agreeing on what they want. Usually thats left up to the designers and engineers will see if it will work or find out how to make it work. Multi engine ratings will be just fossel fuel burning engines. distributive propulsion will be the norm in the future with 10,12 or 25 electric motors. These aircraft will fall under the
powered lift catagory. Thats what the V-22 Osprey
 
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