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A void in the availability of a dependable 40-60 horsepower four-stroke aircraft engine may be one reason we see few PSA. Some development of new four-stroke engines is occurring but the ones I’ve examined are heavier and provide less power than popular two-stroke engines.
How about electric power? — What works with electric propulsion today are low drag, lightweight aircraft that do not require much power to fly. A PSA is nearly perfect in definition. Heavier two-seat aircraft cannot offer the endurance, instilling “range anxiety,” and are still too expensive. Until battery energy capacity increases significantly electric power may be limited to PSA.
My personal experience with electric power shows it can be ideal if:
– the aircraft can carry enough battery to fly for an hour (hard to do while meeting Part 103)
– the motor can provide enough power at low RPM (to reduce prop noise closer to electric motor noise)
The entire system can be designed and integrated for safe operation
I have been researching electric power, a technology with huge potential, and I believe a PSA is the perfect place to start. A new electric motor I am developing is designed specifically for aircraft use meaning it has high torque, low RPM, light weight and high reliability.
Concurrently a new battery system I am creating has one of the highest Lithium Polymer (LiPo) power densities commercially available and is integrated with the motor, controller, and battery management system to provide safe, reliable operation.
Electric power can work well using a PSA with today’s technology. If properly designed, it should provide an endurance of more than one hour. Those who want to fly farther and faster could couple the electric motor with a small four-stroke aircraft engine for a viable hybrid.
FAA is pondering a regulatory approach to electric propulsion but Experimental Amateur Built rules allow customers to build whatever they want. With a simple design and modern construction methods of matched-hole and jig-less assembly build time can be measured in weeks not years.
Britain’s CAA published a revised SSDR (Single-Seat Deregulated) rule that allows the sale of a finished single seat aircraft up to 315 kilograms (693 pounds) gross weight when equipped with an airframe parachute and a reasonable maximum stall speed of 35 knots (40 mph). This is a perfect PSA rule which I hope will spread to other countries.
The future may reward development of viable electric and four-stroke power systems and single seat airframes with modern construction and ramp appeal. Let’s call them Personal Sport Aircraft.
For more information contact Chip about his new aircraft through his business, Aeromarine LSA.
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