• Aug 12th 2010 at 6:04PM
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Yuneec E430, Sonex Waiex, Antares 20E – Click above to watch video after the jump

When Charles Lindbergh made the first flight from New York to Paris in 1927, he was awarded the $25,000 Orteig prize that had eluded (and led to the deaths of) many others. Over eight decades later, his grandson Erik now seeks to inspire future aviation feats with a new award – the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP). While less for derring-do and more for engineering accomplishments, this new accolade has just been bestowed, along with $25,000, to three different efforts in a triad of categories.

For their design and engineering of the E430, Yuneec was awarded the prize for the best electric aircraft. LEAP recognized the craft's "significant commercial potential" and "compelling design" lauding the two-seater as a plane that could "could make possible practical, sustained electric flight." The E430 that Yuneec brought to Oshkosh AirVenture 2010 was an improved version from last year's model, with flight time increased from 1.5 up to 2 hours due to improved batteries. The first production plane is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.

Sonex nabbed the prize for "Best Electric Aircraft Sub-System or Component Technology" for their eFlight Initiative system consisting of a controller, batteries, cooling and safety systems. Except for the batteries, these components, including a brushless DC motor were developed by the company. This architecture was showcased at the event in their Waiex airframe.

The "Individual Achievement Award" went to Axel Lange for his development of the world's first certified production electric aircraft, the Antares 20E. The judges said its level of innovation, engineering, and integration was unmatched.

Hit the jump for footage of the Yuneec E430 and Antares 20E in flight and a lengthy webinar video from Sonex outlining their electric aircraft program, as well as the official LEAP press release.

[Source: LEAP / Yuneec / Sonex / Lange Aviation]


Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP) Awarded to Yuneec, Sonex and Axel Lange

Oshkosh, WI (July 30, 2010) – Today at the World Electric Aircraft Symposium at the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture, Erik Lindbergh, founder of the Creative Solutions Alliance (CSA) and grandson of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, announced the winners of the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prizes (LEAP).

LEAP is a suite of prizes that recognizes significant contributions to the development of practical electric flight, and stimulates meaningful advances in the fledgling electric aircraft industry. LEAP awarded a total of $25,000 in prize money, an amount equal to the Orteig prize that was won by Charles Lindbergh for his 1927 solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. In doing so, Charles Lindbergh changed the world's perspective about the potential for aviation and opened the door for today's $300 billion dollar aviation industry.

"We are witnessing the dawn of a new era in aviation technology," said Erik Lindbergh. "As pilots, we need to take the initiative to find sustainable alternatives for the future of aviation."

The prizes have been awarded for the following:
1) Best Electric Aircraft: Awarded for the best example of a practical electric aircraft in any category – Experimental, LSA, or Certified. The prize was awarded to Yuneec in recognition of Yuneec's accomplishments in the design and engineering of the E430, an aircraft with significant commercial potential. With attention to production and market considerations in addition to a compelling design, Yuneec's efforts have resulted in an aircraft that could make possible practical, sustained electric flight.

2) Best Electric Aircraft Sub-System or Component Technology: Defined as a set of components designed to work together to accomplish a specific task which advances the field of electric aircraft in performance, safety and practicality, or individual components that serve to advance the performance and practicality of electric aircraft. The prize was awarded to Sonex for the design and engineering of the eFlight Initiative electric propulsion system architecture. Their innovative engine cooling system, motor controller, battery pack, and integrated safety systems point to a thorough understanding of needs of the market with an eye toward commercialization, while mitigating potential safety issues.
3) Individual Achievement Award: Granted for significant individual achievement in the field of electric flight for a single event or cumulative effort in any of the following areas: engineering, design, public outreach, regulatory, or education. The prize was awarded to Axel Lange for his leadership and vision in the development of the Antares 20E, which is the world's first certified production electric aircraft. The 20E demonstrates a level of innovation, engineering, and integration that is currently unmatched. The 20E's simplicity of use and elegance of electric power-train integration indicate a level of excellence in engineering and design that warrant this award. Of particular interest is the fact the system monitors itself, and notifies the pilot of battery system status and potential failures.

LEAP has partnered with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) who hosted the LEAP awards at Oshkosh AirVenture, the annual air show held each July in Oshkosh, WI.

LEAP announced that in 2011, LEAP prizes will be awarded at Aero-Friedrichschafen in Germany as well as at AirVenture.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      This whole electric aircraft thing is amazing. Due to the weight of the batteries, you wouldn't think it would make sense at all. But kerosene engines are heavy so you have to make the full comparison.

      Kerosene engine+fuel+exhaust system v. Electric motor+batteries

      And when you consider that electricity is much cheaper than aviation fuel and electric motors are more reliable than ICE, it can kinda make sense. Plus solar panels on the wings can get some incremental power.
        • 8 Months Ago
        "Due to the weight of the batteries, you wouldn't think it would make sense at all."

        It still doesn't, really. It is just the hope that the weight issue *may* be solved soon. These prize winners take basically the tiniest planes they can come up with and fly them for only like an hour or two at low speed. This is no breakthrough yet, only a hint of a direction we would like to go.

        It does not scale up well because of the low energy density (energy/weight). i.e. a turbofan engine may be heavy, but can produce an enormous amount of thrust for a very long time with just incremental amounts of fuel. That incremental fuel weighs much less than the equivalent in batteries. Thus, the larger the energy at stake, the greater the advantage shifts to the jet or ICE.

        Electrics work fabulously on small model airplanes that only fly for 20 minutes!
      • 8 Months Ago

      they are so silent.
      Perfectly to sneak up to some taliban and then smoke them... :D


      well there might still be a lot of problems, but this shows that it is possible.
      why not. there are also gas and battery powered model air planes.

      thanks to lipoly batteries they are now inexpensive and widely available.
      in the past it was impossible with heavy nicd battery chemistry.
      The solar powered airplane is able to flight during the night thanks to lightweight batteries.
      damn I wan't such a plane :)

      Imagine a Zeppelin with electric power. the heavy batteries would be a much lesser issue there. Just don't use hydrogen to fill it.
      the upper hull of the zeppelin would be big enough to hold a lot of thin leightweight solar panels.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Maybe a niche for the recreational flyer? Gliders that can power themselves up to gliding altitude - and then ride the thermals. Should save a lot of cost - no need to pay for a tow plane. If you build it as an experimental plane - you can avoid a lot of the FAA certification costs and red tape.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Yup, motor gliders will be the first threshold met since they need very little motoring endurance to become worth it. Towing costs adds up in a hurry.

        The other reason electric is especially well suited to soaring is that a motor glider, once airborne, shuts down its motor which is then quickly chilled by high altitude air. Once the motor is stopped, restarting can not be taken for granted. Furthermore, when it is needed, it is typically in a hurry and there is no time to tinker with it. Electric motors would not have this degree of uncertainty and readily add thrust whenever needed without all the thermal stabilization, lubrication and cooling issues of ICE.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Yup, great for powered gliders.

        The gliders need weight in the wings regardless, and better it be a string of lithium batteries than lead weight, the electric motor is low frontal area with very minimal cooling needs and no worries about routing an exhaust.

        Relatively quiet take off (just prop noise), silent flying, and fantastic efficiency. Can't soar greener than that.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Hey, look at that! An answer to a question I asked yesterday!

      ABG, are you stalking my posts?
      • 8 Months Ago
      The electric aircraft people are struggling with the same kinds of problems
      that the electric car people are having, so it's good to have still more brains
      working on them.
      These motors and controllers might also be useful for operation in city-sized
      land vehicles, too. Spreading the costs over greater volumes might lower
      them somewhat. I certainly hope so.
      Might ultra-capacitors be handy in this application? Who knows?
      But I'm glad that people are thinking about it.
      Someday engineers and practical people will find a way to make it all work.

      Hope springs eternal...and then it takes flight.
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