Aviation’s Effect on Our Environment

So is it really worth it, to power general aviation aircraft using energy sustainably?

We believe the number one reason to develop and market our patent is to build the future, now. 

 Weren’t we supposed to have flying cars by now?  It didn’t happen, because large auto/aerospace firms didn’t see profit in doing so.  There is at least one company in Silicon Valley quietly developing such a vehicle and they are allegedly affiliated with a company with some money, Google: 

http://www.zee.aero/

Here’s an article from NEWATLAS.COM:

Zee.Aero’s flying car concept would fit in a standard parking space

Zee.Aero, a small company located near the GooglePlex, home to Google, is working on a flying car concept that can take off and land vertically using a plethora of small electric motors turning four-bladed propellers. According to illustrations included with the patent filings, one version of the vehicle is narrow enough to fit into a standard shopping center parking space.

The Zee.Aero design sees wings mounted fore and aft, with the payload area mounted in between. This arrangement is called a canard wing, with the aircraft’s horizontal stabilizer mounted on the front of the aircraft instead of on the tail. On the top of this compact wing arrangement are a number of electric engines turning fat, four-bladed propellers.

This group of engines, which from the illustrations seems to number eight, can use battery power to lift the aircraft vertically for takeoff. Then two vertically mounted engines provide forward thrust until the wings have enough air traveling over them to provide lift. The small vertical engines can be shut down then for an efficient cruise flight.

The large number of propellers are to provide redundancy in the case of failure. Flight control in hover is provided by changing the thrust on individual engines, which is far simpler than the helicopter method of varying propeller pitch in various ways.

This vehicle design is being led by Ilan Kroo, an aeronautics professor and NASA scientist who has founded Zee.Aero and is listed as the inventor on the patent applications. Zee.Aero has listed on its web site a number of openings for aeronautical engineers, and states that it is aiming to use “aerodynamics, autonomy, and electric propulsion” to change personal aviation. The company also mentions the generous use of carbon fiber as a building material.

Interesting picture from the Zee.Aero patent filing that shows the new aircraft design parked between two...

The intriguing pictures are all from the patent filings by the new company, and one of them shows a larger version of the vehicle with bigger engines and smaller wings parked between two cars, apparently at a supermarket or shopping mall, indicating a flying car.

The concept does bear some resemblance to other projects – we recently reported on the Volocopter, which has eighteen small electric engines providing lift in a snowflake arrangement. Flying cars like the Terrafugia must drive to the airport, spread wings, and take off from a runway. This is the same for the eastern-European designed Aeromobile.

There are certainly advantages of the Zee.Aero approach. Multiple electric motors can be driven from a common battery bank or gasoline-powered generator. Controls for such a craft are mechanically very simple, but will require some sophisticated software to make the aircraft easy to fly.

And just so you know, Caleb Garling of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Kroo says that Google is not involved in the project and that the search giant’s close proximity is just a coincidence.


Hannah Barbara’s cartoon The Jetsons was a hit on t.v. in the early 1960s.  George Jetson was way ahead of his time — check out this image — snarled traffic, polluting vehicles, and George flying above it all, looking very concerned. 

jetsons-car-with-older-cars-below

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Way back in December, 2004, Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a government-funded report:  AVIATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT, A National Vision Statement, Framework for Goals and Recommended Actions.   Click on the link below for the entire report.

In sum, the study made the following assertions:

… Things aren’t so bad:  in the last 35 years there has been a six-fold increase in the mobility provided by the U.S. air transportation system.  There has been a 60% improvement in aircraft fuel efficiency and a 95% reduction in the number of people impacted by aircraft noise.

… Despite this, there is an urgent need to address the environmental impacts.  Against a background of emissions reductions from many other sources, aviation pollution and noise impacts are on the rise, due to traffic growth (population).

….The nation should vigorously pursue a balanced approach towards the development of operational, technological  and policy options to reduce emissions and noise impacts of aviation.  Benchmarks should be established to be met by 2025.

Electric aircraft can make a significant contribution to that goal.  They are both clean and quiet.  Step outside right now and listen:  you’ll hear an aircraft flying by.  Because it will probably be a smaller one, it will sound like a lawnmower in the sky.  If it were an electric one, you would hear only a slight hum.  Boeing and NASA and others are right now developing hybrid gas/electric or diesel/electric experimental aircraft.  One reason they are using internal combustion and batteries is why?  Limited range.  Which our patent addresses.

more…               http://web.mit.edu/aeroastro/partner/reports/congrept_aviation_envirn.pdf