The Anonymous Widower

Up, Up And Away: Flying AirCar Earns Its Wings

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

A supercar that comes with wings attached has been given the green light to take to the skies.

It has been given European certification.

I will be very surprised if the Klein Vision AirCar is a success!

January 25, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

CEO: Alice Electric Commuter Airplane’s First Flight Days Away

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Flying Magazine.

The Eviation Alice prototype has certainly been spotted taxiing on the runway and the CEO has said it won’t be long before the first flight.

I have a feeling that this aircraft is going to be a winner.

  • It’s got a lightweight structure.
  • The aerodynamics look to be right.
  • It has received firm orders from quality companies, like Cape Air, DHL and United Airlines.
  • It would be the ideal corporate aircraft for the green billionaire who wants a toy!
  • It looks sexy like Concorde.

I also think that the range, performance and capacity could fit travel patterns well in the UK and Ireland.

Conclusion

I’m looking forward to my first flight.

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Time I Said No To Joan Collins

I’m watching Joan Collins In her programme On BBC 2.

It reminds me of the time I met her.

It must have been between 1985 and 1987, as she was with her fourth husband; Peter Holm, who is exactly two months younger than I am.

We had all travelled from Los Angeles to London on British Airways and we were queuing for passport checks. Joan was to my right and Peter was looking very disinterested.

Then out of the blue, she asked me, if I had a light for her cigarette.

I replied that I was sorry, but I didn’t smoke.

She just smiled and put the cigarette away!

January 1, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

More ICE Sprinters Offer Alternative To Flying

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

The first two paragraphs, give an overview of the changes being made.

Deutsche Bahn introduced more limited-stop Sprinter ICE services on long-distance inter-city routes with the timetable change on December 12.

Sprinter-branded ICE services now operate on eight domestic routes, while a daily Frankfurt am Main – Paris service calling at Mannheim and Karlsruhe also carries the branding. Intended to appeal to business travellers, many of the Sprinter services are timed to depart early in the morning with return trips in the evening. This ensures a full day at the destination and offers a viable alternative to domestic flights.

It would appears that these services now have trains that are under the acceptable four hours.

  • Cologne and Berlin
  • Cologne and Munich
  • Hamburg and Frankfurt Airport

If Deutsche Bahn are serious about competing with the airlines, they must surely increase the frequency.

In 2018, I travelled between Berlin and Munich in under four hours and wrote about it in From Berlin To Munich In Four Hours By Train.

This is how I started that post.

The length of the East Coast Main Line between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh is 632 kilometres.

Deutsche Bahn have recently completed an upgraded High Speed Line between Berlin and Munich, which has a length of 623 kilometres.

Both lines are not the very fastest of High Speed Lines, but lines where a consistent two hundred kilometres per hour is possible.

The East Coast Main Line was built in Victorian times and services typically take around twenty minutes over four hours, with nine -car InterCity 225 trains running twice an hour.

The Berlin-Munich route was originally built over two centuries ago, but the Germans have spent twenty-five years and many billions of euros punching a new route between Berlin and Nuremberg, through the difficult countryside of Thuringen Forest.

The route may allow the Germans to travel from Berlin to Munich in three hours fifty-five minutes, but at present you can only do it three times a day in a six-car train.

I took the lunchtime train and sat in First Class for a hundred and fourteen euros.

Deutsche Bahn have increased the trains on this route to five trains per day, but compared to London and Edinburgh on LNER, it is too infrequent, expensive with questionable customer service and not enough seats to give the airlines a run for their money.

A quick look on Rail Europe indicates that these routes have fast services at an hourly frequency or better.

  • Madrid and Barcelona
  • Milan and Rome
  • Paris and Bordeaux
  • Paris and Cologne
  • Paris and Marseilles
  • Venice and Naples

German rail services might be getting better, but not fast enough to take on the airlines.

 

December 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Plane Surveying Cornwall For Minerals

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

These are the first two paragraphs.

A low-flying 1940s plane doing survey work will be a common sight over mid and west Cornwall during the next two to three weeks.

The geological mapping plane is hoping to identify where lithium and other minerals may be located underground.

But the most interesting thing about the project is the aircraft that does the surveying, which is a 1943 Douglas DC3.

It is being flown by Bell Geospace and the aircraft has been upgraded into a Basler BT-67, with turboprop engines, an improved airframe and modern avionics.

Having flown aircraft at the sort of height mentioned by the BBC, I’d love to get a lift on one of their survey flights.

December 19, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

ZeroAvia Raises $35 Million From United And Alaska Air Group to Provide Hydrogen-Electric Engines For Large Aircraft

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Aviation Today.

This is the first paragraph.

United Airlines announced an investment this week in ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engines. ZeroAvia has secured $35 million in this latest round of investments from both United and Alaska Air Group. The total amount of investments in ZeroAvia is now $115 million and includes previous investors AP Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Shell Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Summa Equity, and Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund.

ZeroAvia certainly seem to be bringing in the investment.

After, yesterday’s trip in a dual-fuel train, lower- and zero-carbon fuels seem to be on the way.

December 17, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Zero-Carbon Emission Flights To Anywhere In The World Possible With Just One Stop

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from the Aerospace Technology Institute.

This is the first sentence of the press release.

Passengers could one day fly anywhere in the world with no carbon emissions and just one stop on board a concept aircraft unveiled by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) today.

These three paragraphs describe the concept.

Up to 279 passengers could fly between London and San Francisco, USA direct or Auckland, New Zealand with just one stop with the same speed and comfort as today’s aircraft, revolutionising the future of air travel.

Developed by a team of aerospace and aviation experts from across the UK collaborating on the government backed FlyZero project, the concept demonstrates the huge potential of green liquid hydrogen for air travel not just regionally or in short haul flight but for global connectivity. Liquid hydrogen is a lightweight fuel, which has three times the energy of kerosene and sixty times the energy of batteries per kilogramme  and emits no CO2 when burned.

Realising a larger, longer range aircraft also allows the concentration of new infrastructure to fewer international airports accelerating the rollout of a global network of zero-carbon emission flights and tackling emissions from long haul flights.

These are my thoughts.

The Airframe

This picture downloaded from the Aerospace Technology Institute web site is a visualisation of their Fly Anywhere Aircraft.

Some features stand out.

The wings are long, narrow and thin, almost like those of a sailplane. High aspect ratio wings like these offer more lift and stability at high altitude, so will the plane fly higher than the 41,000-43,000 feet of an Airbus A350?

I wouldn’t be surprised if it does, as the higher you go, the thinner the air and the less fuel you will burn to maintain speed and altitude.

The horizontal stabiliser is also small as this will reduce drag and better balance with the wing.

The tailfin also appears small for drag reduction.

The body is bloated compared to say an Airbus A 350 or a Boeing 777. Could this be to provide space for the liquid hydrogen, which can’t be stored in the thin wings?

The fuselage also appears to be a lifting body, with the wings blended into the fat body. I suspect that the hydrogen is carried in this part of the fuselage, which would be about the centre of lift of the aeroplane.

The design of the airframe appears to be all about the following.

  • Low drag.
  • high lift and stability.
  • Large internal capacity to hold the liquid hydrogen.

It may just look fat, but it could be as radical as the first Boeing 747 was in 1969.

The Engines

I suspect the engines will be developments of current engines like the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB, which will be modified to run on hydrogen.

If they are modified Trent engines, it will be astonishing to think, that these engines can be traced in an unbroken line to the RB211, which was first run in 1969.

The Flight Controls

Most airliners these days and certainly all those built by Airbus have sophisticated computer control systems and this plane will take them to another level.

The Flight Profile

If you want to fly any aircraft a long distance, you generally climb to a high level fairly quickly and then fly straight and level, before timing the descent so you land at the destination with as small amount of fuel as is safe, to allow a diversion to another airport.

I once flew from Southend to Naples in a Cessna 340.

  • I made sure that the tanks were filled to the brim with fuel.
  • I climbed to a high altitude as I left Southend Airport.
  • For the journey across France I asked for and was given a transit at Flight Level 195 (19,500 feet), which was all legal in France under visual flight rules.
  • When the French handed me over to the Italians, legally I should have descended, but the Italians thought I’d been happy across France at FL195, so they didn’t bother to ask me to descend.
  • I flew down the West Coast of Italy at the same height, with an airspeed of 185 knots (213 mph)
  • I was then vectored into Naples Airport by radar.

I remember the flight of 981 miles took around six hours. That is an average of 163.5 mph.

I would expect the proposed aircraft would fly a similar profile, but the high level cruise would be somewhere above the 41,000-43,000 feet of an Airbus A 350. We must have a lot of data about flying higher as Concorde flew at 60,000 feet and some military aircraft fly at over 80,000 feet.

The press release talks about London to San Francisco, which is a distance of 5368 miles.

This aircraft wouldn’t sell unless it was able to beat current flight time of eleven hours and five minutes on that route.

Ground Handling

When the Boeing 747 started flying in the 1970s, size was a big problem and this aircraft with its long wing may need modifications to runways, taxiways and terminals.

Passenger Capacity

The press release states that the capacity of the aircraft will be 279 passengers, as against the 315 and 369 passengers of the two versions of the A 350.

So will there be more flights carrying less passengers?

Liquid Hydrogen Refuelling

NASA were doing this successfully in the 1960s for Saturn rockets and the Space Shuttle.

Conclusion

This aircraft is feasible.

 

 

 

December 7, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could Universal Hydrogen’s Concept Create A Hydrogen-Powered Single-Aisle Airliner?

Universal Hydrogen are making some of what I would consider the right moves.

Hydrogen Supply

Universal Hydrogen have signed a supply contract with Fortescue Future Industries for the supply of green hydrogen.

The deal is described in this press release on the FFI web site, which is entitled FFI And Universal Hydrogen Join Forces To Decarbonise Aviation.

Collaboration With Airbus

There is an article on BusinessWire, which is entitled Universal Hydrogen Announces New Engineering Development Center Located In Toulouse, France, The Heart of European Aviation.

Toulouse is the home of Airbus.

The Capsule Concept

The capsule concept could be universal.

These are widths of various planes and trains.

  • De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 – 2.52 metres – Internal
  • Airbus ATR 72 – 2.57 metres- Internal
  • Airbus A320neo – 3.7 metres – Internal
  • Boeing 737 – 3.53 metres – Internal
  • Class 800 train – 2.7 metres – External
  • Class 66 locomotive – 2.65 metres – External

I suspect that if the design is correct, then one size of capsule can be made to fit a variety of applications.

Application To Regional Aviation

I discussed this in Flybe Appears To Be On The Way Back.

I believe that De Havilland Canada Dash 8s and Airbus ATR 72s could be converted to hydrogen.

Road Transport

Surely, the capsules would be too big for road transport in the UK and many other countries.

But they would probably be ideal to deliver hydrogen to bus and truck depots and filling stations for hydrogen vehicles. They would just be plugged in and then could start dispensing the fuel.

Decarbonation Of Diesel Locomotives

Consider.

  • The cross-section of a diesel locomotive even in the UK, is larger than that of a regional airliner.
  • Most of the space in the body of a diesel locomotive is taken up by a large diesel engine.
  • Fuel ells or a small gas turbine could be small compared to the diesel engine.
  • Most existing diesel locomotives have electric transmissions.

I believe that many diesel-electric locomotives could be converted to hydrogen power and some could use Universal Hydrogen’s capsules.

Zero-Carbon Backup Generators

Many pieces of important infrastructure, like data centres, hospitals and large railway stations have backup generators.

Universal Hydrogen’s capsules could provide hydrogen for zero-carbon backup generators.

Universal Hydrogen’s Ideas For Single-Aisle Airliners

In the Product page on the Universal Hydrogen web site, there is a section, which is entitled Single Aisle / Narrowbody, where this is the first two sentences.

The majority of aviation emissions are produced by the single aisle (also known as narrowbody) fleet, dominated by the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 families of aircraft. Both Boeing and Airbus are likely to develop a replacement for these venerable models for entry into service in the mid 2030s.

Alongside the text is this graphic, which compares various airliners.

Universal Hydrogen are proposing that Airbus stretch the A321, so that hydrogen capsules can be fitted in the rear of the fuselage, so that the aircraft has similar proportions to the Boeing 757.

Read the full text on the Product page of the Universal Hydrogen web site.

I can see that if they could prove the concept with the Regional Airliner, they could develop the two concepts shown in the graphic.

Conclusion

This is a simple, but very exciting project.

 

 

December 2, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Flybe Appears To Be On The Way Back

I was alerted to the relaunch of the Flybe airline being a serious proposition by this article on the Birmingham Mail, which is entitled Watch As First Of 32 New Flybe Planes Lands At Birmingham Airport.

These are the first two paragraphs.

The first of Flybe’s more eco-friendly planes has landed in Birmingham ready for the launch of the airline’s new city HQ.

Part of a planned 32-aircraft fleet, the De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 turboprop touched down on the runway at Birmingham Airport on Friday.

The new Flybe will be based at Birmingham Airport and will have a fleet consisting of thirty-two De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 aircraft.

The De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400

Note these facts about the aircraft.

  1. According to Wikipedia, 645 aircraft have been ordered, with 587 having been delivered.
  2. Different variants can handle between 40 and 80 passengers.
  3. All aircraft delivered since 1996 are dubbed Q-Series and have active noise and vibration suppression, which is designed to improve the cabin ambience.
  4. A Dash 8-400 is also called a Q400.

But the most interesting development of the Dash 8 aircraft, is that developments are underway, so that the aircraft will be able to be powered by hydrogen.

Universal Hydrogen And A Hydrogen-Powered Q400

This article on Future Flight is entitled Universal Assembles Hydrogen Aircraft Conversion Team In Washington State.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Universal Hydrogen and its hydrogen fuel cell partner Plug Power are joining forces with electric motor specialists MagniX and AeroTec to set up a Hydrogen Aviation Test and Service Center at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington. The partners will use the new facility to convert a Dash 8 regional airliner to hydrogen propulsion in time to start commercial operations in 2025. Flight testing is due to begin in 2022.

The new hydrogen powertrain will consist of an electric propulsion unit (EPU) developed by MagniX and fuel cells provided by Plug Power, which has extensive experience converting trucks to hydrogen. Seattle-based AeroTec will take the lead on converting the Dash 8s to hydrogen propulsion, conducting flight tests, and arranging for certification under FAA supplemental type certificates. The system installation work will be conducted at the Moses Lake facility.

This paragraph gives details of the design.

The hydrogen-powered Dash 8 aircraft, which carry between 41 and 60 passengers, will be able to operate on routes of up to around 625 miles. Universal Hydrogen’s plan calls for the fuel to be delivered directly to aircraft in capsules that are installed in a compartment at the rear of the fuselage.

These are my thoughts on the design.

Power Required

Wikipedia says this about the engines of the Dash 8-400 (Q400).

The Series 400 uses Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A engines rated at 4,850 shp (3,620 kW).

This means that the aircraft will need fuel cells capable of delivering over 7 MW.

This data sheet on the Plug Power web site, says that the company has fuel cells  up to 125 KW, which weigh 350 Kg and need a cooling module, that weighs a further 103 Kg. Scaling up shows the power unit could weigh around 25.4 tonnes.

As the maximum take-off weight of a Q400 is around 30.5 tonnes, this wouldn’t leave much weight for the airframe, the two electric motors and propellers, the hydrogen and the passengers and their luggage.

It would appear that Plug Power must be using some form of lighter-weight fuel cell.

Or could they be using an appropriately-sized gas turbine generator from Pratt & Whitney Canada?

It should be noted that a Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A engine, weighs under a tonne and generates over 3.5 MW.

Obviously, they wouldn’t be developing the plane, if they hadn’t figured out how to generate enough electricity to get it off the ground.

The Hydrogen Capsules

The Product page on the Universal Hydrogen web site is revealing.

This paragraph from the Product page describes how they would convert Regional Aircraft to Hydrogen.

Our first product is a conversion kit for existing regional aircraft, starting with the ATR72 and the De Havilland Canada Dash-8, to fly on hydrogen. This consists of a fuel cell electric powertrain that replaces the existing turboprop engines. It also accommodates, in the rear of the fuselage, our proprietary, lightweight, modular hydrogen capsules that are transported from green hydrogen production sites to the airport and loaded directly into the aircraft using the existing intermodal freight network and cargo handling equipment. By providing both an aircraft conversion solution for the existing fleet and a fuel services offering directly to regional airlines, we will be in passenger service with zero emissions by 2025 and in cargo service shortly thereafter.

Note.

  1. The cutaway on the Product page of a De Havilland Canada Dash-8, which has three capsules in the rear fuselage.
  2. The cutaway shows forty seats in the aircraft.
  3. If you scroll the pictures, you’ll see the design of the capsule.
  4. The product can be used to convert two regional airliners both of which are in production.
  5. Airports will need no new infrastructure to handle the hydrogen.

Universal Hydrogen has also signed a deal with Fortescue Future Industries to supply green hydrogen to fill the capsules.

 Are A First Flight In 2022 And An in-Service Date Of 2025 Over Ambitious?

The article in Future Flight says this.

AeroTec will take the lead on converting the Dash 8s to hydrogen propulsion, conducting flight tests, and arranging for certification under FAA supplemental type certificates.

FAA Supplemental Type Certificates are outlined on this page on the FAA web site, where this introductory paragraph is given.

A supplemental type certificate (STC) is a type certificate (TC) issued when an applicant has received FAA approval to modify an aeronautical product from its original design. The STC, which incorporates by reference the related TC, approves not only the modification but also how that modification affects the original design.

They are a much-used and well-proven method to update aircraft for new purposes and new power units.

I suspect that going this route will enable Q400 and ATR 72 aircraft will be flying on hydrogen by 2025.

How Far Will A Range Of 625 Miles Take The Plane From Birmingham?

I have used the Air Miles Calculator to calculate distances in miles from Birmingham.

  • Amsterdam Schiphol – 276
  • Barcelona – 791
  • Belfast City 225
  • Berlin Schönefeld – 644
  • Biarritz – 621
  • Bilbao – 635
  • Bordeaux – 529
  • Cologne – 397
  • Copenhagen – 624
  • Cork – 290
  • Dublin – 200
  • Dusseldorf – 373
  • Edinburgh – 251
  • Frankfurt – 452
  • Geneva – 556
  • Glasgow – 260
  • Hamburg – 495
  • Inverness – 364
  • Jersey – 225
  • Kirkwall – 474
  • Lerwick – 536
  • Lyon – 558
  • Munich – 660
  • Newcastle – 179
  • Newquay – 198
  • Nice – 735
  • Oslo – 726
  • Paris-Charles de Gaulle – 303
  • Paris-Orly – 315
  • Rotterdam – 265
  • Strasbourg – 494

Note.

  1. It might be possible to serve some routes without refuelling at the other end.
  2. Some routes could be paired for efficiency and still be well below 600 miles.
  3. The large intercontinental airports of Amsterdam Schiphol, Frankfurt and Paris-Charles de Gaulle should be reached easily.
  4. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has a well-connected railway station.
  5. Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport has a TGV station.
  6. Frankfurt Airport has a long distance railway station on the Cologne-Frankfurt high speed line.
  7. If you’re flying to the South of France or Switzerland, it looks like flying from London City Airport is about a hundred miles shorter.

It would appear that the range of 625 miles could be very useful, especially if you use a long distance train at both ends of the flight.

I can certainly understand why Flybe has chosen Birmingham as its main base.

 

Will Flybe Convert Their Aircraft To Hydrogen?

This is obviously up to the company, but if they don’t, someone else will and Flybe will lose their regional market in the UK.

Conclusion

I think those behind the new Flybe could be looking to create the UK’s first zero-carbon airline.

December 2, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Spirit of Innovation’ Stakes Claim To Be The World’s Fastest All-Electric Vehicle

The title of this post is the same as that of this press release on the Rolls-Royce web site.

This is the first paragraph.

We believe our all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft is the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft, setting three new world records. We have submitted data to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) – the World Air Sports Federation who control and certify world aeronautical and astronautical records – that at 15:45 (GMT) on 16 November 2021, the aircraft reached a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph) over 3 kilometres, smashing the existing record by 213.04 km/h (132mph). In further runs at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down experimental aircraft testing site, the aircraft achieved 532.1km/h (330 mph) over 15 kilometres – 292.8km/h (182mph) faster than the previous record – and broke the fastest time to climb to 3000 metres by 60 seconds with a time of 202 seconds, according to our data. We hope that the FAI will certify and officially confirm the achievements of the team in the near future.

Rolls-Royce also claim that the maximum speed achieved of 387.4 mph make it the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle.

To put that speed into perspective, it is faster than a Mark V Spitfire, which was powered by a legendary Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. These aircraft were powered by a Merlin 45 engine that generated 1074kW.

By comparison the Spirit of Innovation has a maximum power of just 400 kW.

Why Do It?

This paragraph from the press release gives an explanation.

As well as a stunning technical achievement, the project and world record runs provided important data for our future electric power and propulsion systems for all-electric urban air mobility and hybrid-electric commuter aircraft. The characteristics that ‘air-taxis’ require from batteries, for instance, are very similar to what was developed for the ‘Spirit of Innovation’.

I’ll go with that, as Rolls-Royce seem to be associated with several electric aviation projects.

But I can’t help feeling that there are parallels with the 1930s, when Supermarine and Rolls-Royce teamed up to produce the Supermarine S 6B, that won the Schneider Trophy outright in 1931. It is generally accepted that the knowledge gained at the time helped to design the Spitfire and the Merlin engine.

November 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 6 Comments