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TRANSPORTATION TUESDAY: Personal Electric Aircraft Takes Flight
Personal flying vehicles may be a bit on the esoteric end of the transportation field, but they are still fun nonetheless. Earlier this year, two single-seat lightweight aircraft made their maiden flights from the British Sywell Aerodrome near Northampton. Not very exciting, you may think to yourself, but what if we told you that the planes were completely propelled by electric motors?
The twin-engine, fixed-wing Lazair airframe was designed by the University of Cambridge‘s Paul Roberton and Flylight Airsports‘ Paul Dewhurst. The electric plane is propelled by ultralight 10kW peak brushless electric motors powered by 12 Lithium Polymer cells. The motors power the carbon fibre propellers which make the plane fly. Dr. Robertson designed a battery management system that allowed him to monitor the energy and temperature of the cells. This was required to maintain balance between capacity and lifetime.
The planes successfully flew for 30 minutes, and reached an altitude of 1,700 feet. Testing will continue on the development of a more environmentally friendly and considerably less noisy personal airplane. Their goal is to have a plane that is capable of flying for two hours on a single charge and can cover 100 miles.
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