Kitty Hawk Multi-Rotor At AirVenture

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At AirVenture, a California startup called Kitty Hawk rolled out a unique new multi-rotor aircraft that's essentially similar to a large drone. It will carry a single person and be manufactured under ultralight standards. AVweb interviewed Kitty Hawk's Todd Reichert for this AirVenture video.

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Comments (6)

I noticed the comment about better batteries in the future. Batteries are chemistry and unless new elements are going to mysteriously appear on earth - there are no new batteries in the future. We have to deal with what we have. The hope for better batteries is a dream based on the lack of knowledge. Any reports of higher density batteries are only going to be applicable to small devices such as cell phones. As the size goes up - the danger rate follows. is the only one that has found the solution for electric flight in any form of practicality.

Posted by: Don Lineback | July 29, 2017 8:12 AM    Report this comment

This gives me flashbacks of "Jet Pack Man" - the guy with the jet-powered, ah, I mean piston-powered ducted fan contraption at Oshkosh a few years back. That was embarrassing.

Posted by: Ken Keen | July 29, 2017 1:52 PM    Report this comment

Yes, batteries are chemistry, but new elements are not required. New molecules are created from existing elements all the time. New battery chemistries have been developed over the past few decades without the need for new elements. The history from lead-acid, to Lithium Polymer did not require introduction of a single new element. If the future of battery development were so dim, large companies would not be employing chemists to develop new battery chemistries, with such goals as reduced weight, reduced size, unconstrained geometry, flat discharge curves, longer capacity, et all. I am far more optimistic that such design goals, along with improvements in technologies that employ the use of batteries, will collectively result in achieving product goals.

Posted by: RAY MONTAGNE | July 30, 2017 8:20 AM    Report this comment

The nickel-metal hydride battery is probably the most reliable and durable battery ever made. To this day nickle is still the stabilizing element that makes lithium safe. Thomas Edison invented the NiMH. So I'd say plenty of time has passed for "better" batteries to show up. According to Battery University - the key is a trade off. As the power density goes up, so does the volatility. Aviation cannot afford hazardous OR heavy batteries. A light weight charging system is the only way to go.

Argonne National Laboratory says the energy density of fuel powered vehicles will be 100 times more energy-dense than a battery powered. That means you would need 600 lbs of battery to go as far as 1 gallon of gasoline can take you. The combustion engine is no gold star either. They only get about 23% of all the energy that is contained in one gallon of gas.

There is a solution to both problems and to have electric flight is surprisingly simple.

Posted by: Don Lineback | July 30, 2017 12:20 PM    Report this comment

Don, there are existing, known battery chemistries that offer a 2-5x increase over current Li-ion batteries. Some appear to offer lower danger factor, as well - look into some of the recent research on solid-electrolyte Li-ion, for example.
To compete head to head with gasoline in aviation applications, setting aside noise, pollution, and some of the other issues of internal combustion engines, would require an increase of about 10x, which isn't likely to happen in our lifetimes, if ever.
But, it's interesting to see what can be done, and what could be done with next-generation batteries - or even with electric motors driven by a gas-powered generator!

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | August 3, 2017 7:07 AM    Report this comment

Thomas - Here is what can be done: We have a high Hp low current light weight motor. We cannot use batteries that are still on the drawing board so we design packs in such a way to get the highest performance (with an Active BMS) an increase the cycle life which makes them affordable.

A gas engine averages 23% gain from the the fuel, so that leaves 77% to tap into. When you factor in the weight - a combustion engine is really inefficient.

The charging power plant can now be in the 90% range and the motor is already at 99%. We will put our system in the right plane ready to show by the time for the DeLand Show or Sebring.

Posted by: Don Lineback | August 3, 2017 8:05 AM    Report this comment

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