The Archaeopteryx is more than just a good word for spelling bees, it’s a high-end hang-glider – and now, depending on your bankroll and perspective, a low-end electric motorglider.
Its low weight (54 kilograms or 118.8 pounds in its most basic state) and high performance (around 25:1 lift-to-drag ratio) has helped this Swiss marvel achieve things like the 498 kilometer (308.76 mile) goal flight by Peter Eicher in Australia last October; or a 407 kilometer (252.34 mile) flight around the Swiss Alps in 2012.
A flier can hop off a hill with the lightest and most basic form of Archaeopteryx, which features self-connecting controls, a rocket-deployed full-airplane rescue system, and a wheel brake. Pilots wanting less local soaring and the option of visiting distant climes can opt for the “Race” model, a fully-faired version with trap doors, a wheel “spat,” and since you’re going to be going places, side and rear luggage bags.
Archaeopteryx has now been outfitted with a Czech-built MGM Compro power system, which as shown in the video, can be installed or removed through velcroed panels without dismantling the airplane. The clever design and the modular components make for a quick conversion from foot- or tow-launching to self-launching with an on-board powerplant. The airplane in this form is called the Elec’teryx, a name yet to be heard in even advanced spelling bees.
The motorized version starts with the “Race” configuration and adds “an electric drive system consisting of propeller (with folding blades, long drive shaft, bearing, and quick disconnection device), a quick adaptive drive unit (with motor, controller, quick release pins), motor carrier, quick adaptive throttle unit, and flight-battery.”
The motor appears to be an MGM unit sold as the Rotex Electric REX 30, a 15 to 18 kilowatt (20.1 to 24.1 horsepower) unit which can swing a 1.3 meter propeller at a leisurely 1,800 to 2,200 rpm depending on windings. The REX 30 weighs 5.2 kilograms (11.44 pounds). Twin 14-cells-in-series, 40 Amp-hour battery packs, motor controller, battery management system, and 30- Amp battery charger complete the power pack, which can be installed or removed in about five minutes.
UL-Segelflug.de reports that after a takeoff run of 50 meters (164 feet) on a hard surface, the Elec’teryx climbed at about 2.5 meters per second (492 feet per minute) at a speed of 75 kilometers per hour (46.5 mph). It can reach 1,300 meters on a full charge after a run of 11 minutes at full throttle.
They conclude, “Once more Ruppert composite [sets a standard] with its new drive concept not only on high-tech but also on quality that will surely come at a price. In the area of e-drive for self-launching new [quality levels] once again set the standards that should be reflected in safety and long life.”
The base Archaeopteryx sells for 79,045 Swiss Francs ($90,111), while the complete Race version with power system raises that to 106, 110 Swiss Francs ($120,965).