Joshua Portlock, Co-founder, Director and Chief Technology Officer for Electro.Aero in Perth, Australia, has a heady set of ambitions. He and Rob Belaga presented a simple electric vertical takeoff and landing machine, FlyKart, at two different symposia in northern California two years ago, and presented a refined version for the Boeing GoFly competition shortly thereafter. They’ve made it to the finals of the $2,000,000 contest and will be in the February, 2020 flyoff.
In the meantime, he’s started a flight training program using Pipistrel’s Alpha Electro trainer, and is partnering with an almost bewildering set of industry, government and academic leaders, including Ampaire, Bye Aerospace, E/S/Aero, NASA, Pipistrel, University of Western Australia, and Zero Emissions Vehicles Australia. Joshua gives a rundown in his down-under TED Talk.
Working with ducted fan systems leads to a redesign of a Diamond DA-40 that ditches the internal combustion engine in the nose for a battery pack. One ducted fan behind and on each side of the passenger compartment provide thrust and theoretically much lower operating costs.
L. E. A. P.
Electro.Aero’s Light Electric Aviation Propulsion consists of a series of trademarked components according to their web site:
Electro.Aero Airlink™: Cross-platform device management software, enabling remote data reporting and hardware performance optimization.
Electro.Aero B.E.M.™: Battery Energy Modules
Electro.Aero Charger™: “Compact, lightweight superchargers optimized for aircraft use and designed in compliance with the forthcoming SAE standards.”
Electro.Aero Drive™: Liquid or air-cooled electronic speed controller.
Electro.Aero EMS™: “Electrical Management System includes integrated touchscreen avionics, digital throttle, pilot interface and telemetry.”
Electro.Aero Fan™: Carbon fibre electric ducted fan, presumably tuned to individual aircraft use.
Electro.Aero Motor™: Airworthy electric motor in compliance with ASTM standards.
This full range of motors, controllers and accessories emulates the business model of Geiger Engineering in Germany, which offers a full line of ultralight electric motors, controllers and support accessories.
In a country where the highways literally melt from high temperatures, electric aircraft make a special kind of sense, not flagging because of thin, hot air. Aerodynamics remain the same, but motors can continue to make full power even when their internal-combustion rivals cannot. Besides, it makes it easier to get to that island off the coast.
And for those who can’t wait to get in the water, Electro Aero has a companion company, Electro Nautic, that produces an electric hydrofoil jet-ski type of boat. This little device seems to combine boating and flying in a novel way.
Joshua and his team are industrious, indeed.