PC-Aero Elecktra One / Elektra One Solar
The Elektra 1, designed by Calin Gologan and built by a group of Romanians including Sorin Mares, received an award for innovation in aviation, the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize.
The one-seater plane is made of light carbon composite materials, utilising an electric motor, the batterys are charged while hangered, through solar panels. Elektra One Solar has six square meter solar cells on its wings to provide over 1 kilowatt (kW) of power for flying. Since the aircraft requires at least 2.5kW power for horizontal flight, this is slightly less than half the energy required for the plane to fly. The Elektra One Solar is not completely powered by the solar panels on its wings. To enable full flight, the plane has a series of high energy density rechargeable Li-Ion batteries on board. These can be recharged using the solar panels when the plane is parked outside. If the plane is parked inside, a specially outfitted solar hangar can take over the recharging duties.
PC-Aero developed the Elektra One Solar with the support from Solar Hangar and Solar World. The business idea behind it is that the solar panel equipped hangars will provide energy for the plane while the excess energy would be fed back into the grid. This predecessor of the Elektra One Solar, the Elektra One, has a range of 500 kilometers and an endurance of 3 hours. Its wingspan is also smaller at just 8.6 meters compared to 11 meters in the Elektra One Solar.
The Elektra One is in the German Ultralight LTF-UL-class powered by a 13.5 kW brushless electric engine. Germany's Geiger Engineering developed the electric drive unit which includes the HPD 13.5 (16 kW maximum power) electric motor, controller, battery management system and propeller.
As the Elektra One was designed for minimum energy requirements at 160 km/h, once airborne, it is remarkably frugal with its use of energy. It can remain airborne for three hours and its claimed range has now increased to 500 kilometers. PC-Aero claims that the system offers operational costs per hour of less than EUR 35 or EUR 0.2 per km, which is a lot less than a roadgoing car.
Though the driving force and design of the Elektra One emanated from PC-Aero's founder Calin Gologan, the team included team leader Einar Enevoldson, a 30 year veteran NASA-test pilot, engineer and test pilot.
Elektra One first flew on 19 March 2011, piloted by Jon Karkow, from Augsburg Airport in Germany. Three flights were performed, showing a climb rate of 400 fpm. Karkow checked flight performance and characteristics and briefed the German test pilot Norbert Lorenzen for the next flight on March 21.
A new 30 minute flight was performed on 23 March 2011. Only about 3kW from the total on board of 6kW energy was used and this was before the new variable pitch propeller and retractable landing gear were installed.
Endurance is estimated to be up to three hours and a cruising speed of 160 kph. The single seat Elektra One weighs 200 kg complete with battery and cost US$145,000 in 2012.
One of the Elektra One's greatest advantages is its very low level of noise. The propeller speed is optimized for low noise too (under 50 dB). Cruising at 160 km/h, the propeller is rotating at just 1400 RPM. At this speed, PC-Aero claims it makes one fifth of the noise of a classic light aircraft and half the noise of an ultralight. Operating costs are below 35 €/hour and 0,2 €/km (2012).
Elektra One Solar