August 3, 2013 - Brian Carpenter believes that the cost of airplanes is a key barrier to the future of aviation.
He aims to change that.
So Carpenter partnered with Quicksilver Aeronautics to develop the Quicksilver EMG-for electric motor glider.
"It will be a true Part 103 electric motorglider," Carpenter said. "We will have plansbuilt and kit-built versions.
"Besides being an ultralight, it can be built as an (experimental) amateur-built aircraft. Eventually we plan to have E-LSA and S-LSA certifications as well. We will have four categories it will be certified in."
To keep costs under control the airplane is modular. For very few dollars it can be initially configured as a Part 103 glider. Power systems can be added and, since plans are to keep the craft compliant with the 51 percent experimental amateur-built rules, the airplane can be registered once the owner acquires a pilot certificate. Once registered, a second seat can be added.
Power systems are intended to be modular as well.
"It has a multitude of motor configurations on up through a trimotor version," Carpenter said. "We are utilizing model airplane technology for all of the motors on the initial version. The motors, controllers, propellers, telemetry, and control systems - all of that is off-the-shelf existing stuff from the [radio-controlled model] industry.
"You need to have a really large market in order to justify the research and development costs associated with any product...we are just leveraging what those really smart people have done and adapting it to our aircraft."
Carpenter also expects electric flight technology to develop very rapidly, making the power system obsolete. The design's modular systems will make it possible to very quickly adapt as new and better options enter the mainstream market.
Another key concept for the airplane is the use of external power systems to accomplish the most energy - intensive flight phase-takeoff.
"We intend it to be capable of aero tow as well as vehicle tow to altitude," Carpenter said. "Then you would turn on the sustainer motors to get a longer flight."
Initial power configurations should result in 25-minute flights. Given the airplane's useful load capability, flights as long as three hours are technically possible. But Carpenter said the cost of such a configuration makes it an unrealistic option.
Prototype construction is underway. Initial testing will be as a glider, with the twin-engine electric version up next.
"The engines are in a composite pod that goes click-click and it is installed on the airplane," Carpenter said. "There are no electrical connections. The motor, controller, and batteries are all right next to each other."
Folding propellers will complete the module, with wireless model airplane transceiver technology controlling the powerplants. Telemetry of parameters such as rpm, battery temperature, motor temperature, current draw, and battery capacity will wirelessly transmit to the cockpit as well.
Carpenter believes the concepts being developed for the Quicksilver EMG, the Part 103 rules, and the overall simplicity of electric motors will revolutionize aviation.
"This will be another renaissance," he said. "Remember what the turbine engine did to [big radial engines] with all the moving parts? We went to a turbine with a single spinning shaft. It changed the world.
"This will happen with ultralight aviation."
Information about the project is available from Carpenter at his Rainbow Aviation Services booth in Exhibit Hangar A, and on the Internet at www.ElectricMotorglider.com.