The Chinese electric aircraft manufactuer Liaoning Ruixiang Aircraft announced today that the hydrogen powered internal combustion engine (ICE) demonstrator airplane that the company developed made the first flight on 25 March 2023 in Shenyang, China. This is China’s first such type of aircraft.
The ICE engine is a modified 2 liter automobile engine jointly developed by Ruixiang and The FAW auto company in China. The automobile engine is turbo charged and specifically developed to use hydrogen as fuel potentially for automobile use as well. The airframe is based on Ruixiang’s 4-seat full electric RX4e airplane which is undergoing certification in China.
According to the company, the demonstrator airplane has a wingspan of 13.5 meters and a length of 8.2 meters. It has 4.5kg high press hydrogen carried on board which gives the demonstrator over one hour duration at a cruising speed of 180km/h. The maximum thermal efficiency of the hydrogen internal combustion engine is greater than 43%, and the overall thermal efficiency of the power system is greater than 40%.
Ruixiang says that it began this project in 2021 and has been working with multiple Chinese entities including the FAW auto company, several universities and research institute. Ruixiang intends to use the demonstrator to further the research and application of hydrogen aviation by using hydrogen as the direct fuel source.
Ruixiang is the electric aircraft pioneer in China, designing and obtaining the Chinese regulator CAAC’s type certificate for RX1E, the two-seat full electric light sport airplane (LSA) in 2015 making the company one of the first in the world certifiying a full electric airplane. Ruixiang has been developing the four-seat full electric RX4E based on the certification and operation experience of RX1E since 2017. RX4E made the first flight in October 2021 and is currently undergoing CAAC type certification under Part 23 normal category.
Diamond Aircraft Austria and Lufthansa Aviation Training (LAT) have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to jointly explore and develop opportunities for a more sustainable flight training. The cooperation includes testing of the all-electric eDA40 in a real training environment, an eDA40 purchase intention to supplement the current DA40 NG fleet as well as analyses for the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).
Diamond Aircraft and LAT are both committed to the targets of the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Aviation Programme by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). With this collaboration both companies agreed on shaping a sustainable future for aviation together. eDA40 first trial phase at LAT’s Grenchen, Switzerland base is expected to take place end of 2023/beginning of 2024, after technical clearance is provided.
With the #MakeChangeFly program, the Lufthansa Group wants to lead into a sustainable future with the goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050 and cutting its net carbon emissions in half by 2030 compared to 2019 by continuously implementing a wide range of innovative measures.
“We have enjoyed a long and trusting partnership with Diamond Aircraft,” said Matthias Spohr, CEO Lufthansa Aviation Training. “Diamond Aircraft’s fuel-efficient DA40 and DA42 models are already operating very successfully at our flight schools in Rostock (Germany) and Grenchen (Switzerland). I am very pleased that with the signing of the LOI for the all-electric eDA40, we are now jointly opening a groundbreaking chapter in the topic of sustainability. This topic is of particular significance for our European Flight Academy, which is known for its high and globally recognized quality standards in selection and training. The testing of the all-electric eDA40 is an important step towards future pilot training in an even more environmentally friendly manner.”
Within the scope of the collaboration, the eDA40 will be tested in a real training environment at LAT’s Switzerland base in Grenchen. Results will help to further develop the e-aircraft for flight training and to explore options for a suitable operation of a mixed training fleet consisting of the eDA40 and the conventional AUSTRO jet-fuel powered DA40 NG. LAT has declared its intention to be the eDA40 launch customer for the EASA region and purchase a number of eDA40 for their flight training program to comply with the Lufthansa Group sustainability targets. More information on that will be released at a later stage. In addition, both companies will analyze and develop the use of SAF fuels for the entire Diamond piston aircraft range and jointly work on further projects such as sustainable propulsions, further operational options for trainer aircraft and synthetic flight training devices.
The Chinese eVTOL startup Autofilght claimed today that their 5-seat eVTOL prototype “Prosperity” flew 250.3km in one charge on 23 Feburary 2023 near Shanghai, breaking the previous distance record of eVTOL with over 2 metric ton maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) set by Joby’s S4 eVTOL prototype last year. In the flight video released by Autoflight, the eVTOL took off vertically, transited to horizontally cruise flight and then landed vertically.
The record-setting prototype is the 4th prototype of “Prosperity” with lift+cruise configuration, five seats (one pilot+four passengers), fully electric powered. It changed back to two pusher propellors on the tail for cruise from the single pusher unit in last prototype.
The new “Prosperity” prototype’s industrial design is directed by the famous designer Frank Stephenson who also happens to design the US eVTOL company Archer’s Maker two-seat demonstrator
Last week the Chinese civil aviation regulator CAAC published two milestone UAV rules on its website both of which have actually come effective last December but only being released to the public now. These two rules, one “administrative policy” (the overall framework) and one advisory circular (AC), set the framework for UAV certification in China including passenger-carrying pilotless UAV which could be the first such rule in the world. For the full rules (in Chinese only): http://caac.gov.cn/XXGK/XXGK/GFXWJ/202302/t20230213_217212.html
In the AC, The CAAC specifies the safety requirements for pilotless passenger UAV to be “no lower than piloted aircrafts of the same class.” but there is no specific value in the rules for safety requirement for pilotless passenger UAV like those set by EASA’s SC-VTOL. In the AC it says the value for safety requirement of passenger-carrying UAV is not specified at this moment due to lack of empirical data of such aircraft.
“This is an electric airplane suitable for daily use and training”–this is the conclusion of Willi Tacke, the publisher of e-Flight Journal, after his and the first flight of any journalist of the two-seat Elektra Trainer electric airplane designed and produced by the electric flight veteran Elektra Solar GmbH of Germany.
The first test report is published in German in e-flight-Journals sister magazine Flügel das Magazin. Click on the cover to read more.
The e-flight-journal test report in English language will be published here soon.
The Elektra Trainer is now ready for series production after obtaining the certificate from DULV the German ultralight organization. It can appeal to a wide audience with some serious flight operations to do with its two seat and 2.5 hours duration plus reserve. Its performance and capability can help justify its relatively high price tag. At the AERO 2023 scheduled for 19-22 April, the airplane will not only draw attention to itself with the DULV type certification, but also with an approval for glider towing. The publisher of e-Flight Journal and the CEO of Flying Pages Willi Tacke was the first journalist in the world to have the opportunity to fly the ElektraTrainer. The following are some teaser of the flight experience. If you want to get a closer look of the Elektra Trainer in first hand, then you need to plan a trip to AERO & e-Flight-Expo in Friedrichshafen, Germany!
Aerofugia, the aviation subsidiary of the Chinese automobile group Geely, annouced that the 5-seat eVTOL prototype named “AE200 X01” made the first flight in hovering mode on 17th January 2023.
The prototype has eight propulsion units four of which in the front can tilt for both vertical takeoff and landing and cruise flight while the other four units in the back are in fixed position for VTOL operation only. This configuration is a big deviation from the full-size mock-up of the previous design concept named TF-2 which had lift+cruise configuation without any tilting function. Notably the name of the flying prototype is also different from the mock-up whose name TF-2 back then was obviously a continuity of the TF-1 roadable airplane (aka a real “flying car”) of Terrafugia which was acquired by Geely in 2017 but whose operation has been literally shut down in 2019 when Geely laid off the majority of the staff. The change of the name may indicate a change of eVTOL product plan of Aerofugia who formed a joint-venture in China with Volocopter in 2021.
According to Aerofugia, they applied to the Chinese regulator CAAC for the eVTOL certification in November 2022. In December 2022 the final assembly and all tests of key system of the prototype were completed and the first flight was accomplished on 17th January 2023.
Original press release (in Chinese lanuage only): https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/P4Q50jyjycyr9Qe4xR2CNQ
Munich-based advanced air mobility (AAM) startup Skyroads AG has been making progress at the automated flight test site at Augsburg Airport with partners to develop a large-scale real-life laboratory for research and testing of AAM concepts.
This AAM test site project is co-funded by Bavaria government and aims at improving communication technologies in aviation so that the open, automated and interoperable Skyroads flight control system can also be operated safely in metropolitan regions.
Skyroads says in the press release that “(it) enables operators of fleets, ground infrastructure and vertiports (take-off and landing areas for AAM aircraft) as well as aircraft manufacturers to test their vehicles and infrastructures at an early stage of development – while the Skyroads system guarantees the safety of the test flights.” “At the same time, the company provides support with the test flight application procedures, facilitating the respective approval by the authorities. The partners include Supernal as the AAM division of the Korean Hyundai Group, Flix, the Technical University of Munich with several chairs, Hybrid-Airplane Technologies, FlyNow Aviation, Horyzn, Blueflite, Amazilia Aerospace and Manta Aircraft from Italy.”
For Skyroads and Augsburg Airport, the next step is to design and establish an operating agreement that regulates the operation of test and demonstration flights without disrupting conventional air traffic and the neighbourhood of the airport.