Wisk Resumes Flight Testing with Self-Flying Air Taxi

Wisk - sustainable aviation

All-electric, eVTOL aircraft, Cora, returns to flight in the U.S. and New Zealand

JUN 10TH, 2020

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA AND WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – – Wisk, the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) company behind the world’s first all-electric, self-flying air taxi, Cora, announced today that it has resumed flight testing in both the U.S. and in New Zealand.

The flight tests will evaluate the performance of the aircraft in a real world environment, while collecting data that will help inform the further development, operation, safety features and certification of the aircraft.

“We are excited to resume test flights following a brief pause due to COVID-19,” said Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk. “The team’s dedication over the past few months has allowed us to remain focused on critical non-flight areas, such as certification, software development, and operations. This has allowed us to maintain momentum during this unique time. But it’s awesome to be flying again.”

Flight tests had been temporarily paused due to shelter-in-place restrictions resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, the company had completed more than 1300 test flights expanding the flight envelope, providing data for model, design, and requirements updates, and maturing procedures to operate the aircraft safely and efficiently.

Wisk - sustainable aviation

“Our first priority has always been safety, both for our employees and in the development of our aircraft,” said Carl Engel, Director, Flight Test for Wisk. “As we return to flight testing, we have implemented a number of procedures and social distancing measures based on best practices and recommendations from local and national health and government organizations.”

Sourcewisk.aero

Airbus – looking beyond E-Fan X

sustainable aviation

Our decarbonisation journey continues: looking beyond E-Fan X

A word from Grazia Vittadini, Airbus Chief Technology Officer

Aviation connects and unites people. As people discovered the magic of flight, serving this fundamental need drove a steep growth in air travel. This increase led us to explore innovative technologies to ensure that future generations can enjoy flying as much as we do.

When I first started my career at Airbus, the notion of electric flight was considered a far-off pipedream. Today, it’s a reality. Airbus’ overriding goal remains unchanged: we’re fully committed to decarbonising aviation. We’re steadfast in our belief that there’s no world in which the future of air travel is not a sustainable one.

As we start to navigate the realities of a post-COVID-19 world, I’m more certain than ever that we need to continue full-speed ahead with our sustainability ambitions. In fact, given the unprecedented challenge of climate change, we at Airbus have been asking ourselves if we could take an even bolder approach to reduce CO2 emissions. Today, our answer is a resounding yes!

But decarbonising the aviation industry is no small feat. To achieve this, we need to re-focus all of our efforts on technology bricks that will take us there. It’s for this reason that Airbus and Rolls Royce have jointly decided to bring the E-Fan X demonstrator to an end. As with all ground-breaking R&T projects, it’s our duty to constantly evaluate and reprioritise them to ensure alignment with our ambitions. These decisions are not always easy. But they’re undoubtedly necessary to stay the course.

When we launched the E-Fan X project in 2017, we set out with the ambition to push the limits by testing disruptive technologies in a game-changing approach to future aircraft. And we did just that: E-Fan X has shattered pre-conceived notions of what is possible in future flight. This helped us to pave the way for an industry-wide decarbonisation movement of which we’re proud to take the lead.

To say we’ve learned a lot from this demonstrator project would be an understatement. Over the past three years, each successful E-Fan X milestone has offered us rich insights for the future, including:

  • Serial hybrid-electric propulsion: Hybrid architectures, high-voltage systems and batteries are indispensable technology bricks for several other demonstrator projects across our wider R&T portfolio to diversify power sources. We will continue to develop and mature them at our E-Aircraft System Test House.
  • New pathways for disruptive CO2 reduction: Exploring the possibilities—and limitations of—serial hybrid-electric propulsion also opened up inquiry into new technology pathways. Hydrogen being one of them, which is equal parts a huge opportunity as it is a new challenge.
  • Future certification and regulatory acceptance: From the start, we have been consistently delighted by our customers’—and indeed, the entire aviation ecosystem’s—overwhelming enthusiasm for E-Fan X. With our research partnerships on hybrid-electric and hydrogen airport infrastructure and operations, we will have laid a foundation for the future industry-wide adoption and regulatory acceptance of alternative-propulsion commercial aircraft.

Thanks to these key learnings, Airbus has developed a more focused roadmap on how to progress on our ambitious decarbonisation commitments. A lofty achievement for a first-of-its-kind demonstrator like
E-Fan X.

As we head into the future, I would like to sincerely thank all partners, engineers and designers—at Airbus and beyond—who have tirelessly brought their expertise, passion and engagement into driving this pioneering project. I’m extremely grateful and proud of the team: you’re an amazing group of bold, talented and dedicated professionals! Also, I’d like to thank Paul Stein, Rolls-Royce CTO, and his team for an extraordinary partnership on E-Fan X. I invite you to read Paul’s moving statement here. It’s through cross-industry partnerships like these that the aviation industry will bring competitive zero-emission solutions to the future of flight.

Although E-Fan X will not take to the skies, I strongly believe that its spirit will live on as we continue on our journey towards climate-neutral flight.

It’s a journey that we’re all on together. And only together, we will succeed.

Grazia Vittadini

Airbus Chief Technology Officer

Source: Airbus

Rolls-Royce unveils all-electric plane targeting the record books

IASA e.V. - sustainable aviation

19 December 2019

Rolls-Royce’s ambitions to build the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft have taken an important step forward with the unveiling of the plane at Gloucestershire Airport. Work will now begin on integrating the ground-breaking electrical propulsion system to enable the zero-emissions plane to make a run for the record books with a target speed of 300+ MPH (480+ KMH) in late Spring 2020.

The plane is part of a Rolls-Royce initiative called ACCEL – short for “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight” and is a key part of Rolls-Royce’s strategy to champion electrification. The project involves a host of partners including electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA and the aviation start- up Electroflight. Half of the project’s funding is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.

Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “The UK has a proud heritage and enviable worldwide reputation for advances in aviation technology. The electrification of flight has the potential to revolutionise the way we travel and transform aviation for decades to come – ensuring we can travel worldwide while maintaining a low carbon footprint. Backed by Government funding, Rolls-Royce is pushing the boundaries even further, and this new innovation could become the fastest electric plane ever.”

Rob Watson, Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical said: “Building the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft is nothing less than a revolutionary step change in aviation and we are delighted to unveil the ACCEL project plane. This is not only an important step towards the world-record attempt but will also help to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and ensure that we are at the forefront of developing technology that can play a fundamental role in enabling the transition to a low carbon global economy.”

The ionBird test airframe, named after the electrical technology propelling the aircraft, was also unveiled. The ionBird will be used to test the propulsion system before it is fully integrated into the plane. Planned tests over the next couple of months include running the propulsion system up to full power as well as key airworthiness checks.

“The ATI is proud to partner with Rolls-Royce on the ACCEL programme because we believe it will lead to exciting new developments in electric propulsion. One of the priorities of the ATI is looking at how aviation can be more sustainable, and ACCEL will be a critical step in our understanding of how electric propulsion fits into that broader aspiration for the UK aerospace sector,” said Gary Elliott, CEO of the Aerospace Technology Institute. “We are also excited about the way it establishes a new and innovative supply chain, bringing together the best of the UK that includes cross-sector expertise, start-up energy and critical domain leadership”.

ACCEL will have the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft, providing enough energy to fuel 250 homes or fly 200 miles (London to Paris) on a single charge. Its 6,000 cells are packaged to minimise weight and maximise thermal protection. An advanced cooling system ensures optimum performance by directly cooling cells during the high-power record runs.

The propeller is driven by three high power density axial electric motors and compared to a conventional plane, the propeller blades spin at a far lower RPM to deliver a more stable and far quieter ride. Combined they’ll continuously deliver more than 500 horsepower for the record run. Even during the record run the all-electric powertrain delivers power with 90% energy efficiency and of course zero emissions. (In comparison, a Formula 1 race car tops out at close to 50% energy efficiency).

Chris Harris, CEO, YASA said: “YASA’s electric motor technology is ideal for powering electric flight – the advantages we see on the road are amplified in the air where reducing size and weight for a given power and torque is even more important. We share the same passion for engineering as the team at Rolls-Royce and are delighted to partner with them on ACCEL, a project that’s ushering in a new age of sustainable, electric flight.”

The ACCEL project is just one of the ways in which Rolls-Royce is developing lower carbon power. This includes partnering with Airbus on the E-Fan X technology demonstrator project, which is an important stepping stone towards hybrid electric commercial aircraft at the scale of today’s single aisle family. We are also working with Widerøe, the largest regional airline in Scandinavia on a joint research programme on zero-emissions aviation. The programme is part of the airline´s ambition to replace and electrify its regional fleet of 30+ planes by 2030.

Source: Rolls-Royce

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