E-RAU to develop an electric aircraft


Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Powering Imagination LLC have entered into an agreement to create an electric flight program focused on reducing aircraft emissions and noise through the development of electric propulsion systems.

Embry-Riddle students and faculty will convert a motor glider similar to this so that it runs on electric power.
Embry-Riddle students and faculty will convert a motor glider similar to this so that it runs on electric power.

In announcing their agreement, Erik Lindbergh, CEO of Powering Imagination, and Dr. Richard Anderson, Director of the Eagle Flight Research Center at Embry-Riddle, noted that commercial aviation powerplants emit a significant amount of pollutants into the atmosphere, and that aircraft noise is increasingly an issue around the world, restricting access to airports and inconveniencing the surrounding communities.

Electric and hybrid-electric power systems offer the potential to significantly reduce both noise and emissions.

Third-generation aviator
Erik Lindbergh is grandson of aviation pioneers Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  Powering Imagination’s Quiet Flight Initiative promotes sustainable aviation and innovations in electric flight, alternative aviation fuels and aircraft noise reduction.

The initiative will partner with the Green Flight Program at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus, where students and faculty will convert a Diamond HK36 motor glider to electric power for testing in noise-sensitive areas.

The aircraft will also be used for assessing new components of electric propulsion systems to provide real-world evaluation under flight conditions.

Embry-Riddle and Powering Imagination estimate that the aircraft will make its first flight in mid-2015 at the Daytona Beach Campus.

“I’m excited about partnering with Embry-Riddle to create technologies and development capabilities that will benefit the entire global electric flight industry,” said Lindbergh.

Eric Bartsch, Chief Operating Officer of Powering Imagination, added, “This aircraft will serve as an investment in the future of sustainable aviation, enabling the research and development of innovations that will transform the future of flight.”

The new partnership is equally welcomed by Embry-Riddle.

“Our students are thrilled to be able to apply what we learned in the 2011 NASA Green Flight Challenge and take it to the next level as we collaborate with Powering Imagination,” said Anderson.

Raising funds
Both Powering Imagination and Embry-Riddle are currently raising funds for this multiyear initiative to enable the purchase of the HK36 airframe, the conversion of the aircraft to electric power and the operation of the plane for testing methods of reducing emissions and noise.

Corporations and individuals interested in supporting this research program and the development of the electric flight industry are encouraged to contact Bartsch at ericb@poweringimagination.com or Embry-Riddle Director of Development Lyndse Costabile at lyndse.costabile@erau.edu.



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