Merger with Microdrones Brings More R&D Possibilities for Schübeler

Dr. Roelof Vos and Malcom Brown discuss the successful first launch of the scaled-model Flying-V.

What are today’s aerospace engineers doing to shape the future of long-distance air travel? One possible answer is the Flying-V. What began as an idea from TU Berlin student Justus Benad is now one step closer to reality with the successful launch of the scale model Flying-V that was outfitted with efficient and powerful Schuebeler EDFs.

 

Dr. Roelof Vos, Assistant Professor at the Aerospace Engineering Faculty of the Delft University of Technology, and Malcom Brown, Chief Engineer of the Flying V project, spoke about this exciting new aircraft design and its potential to change the aircraft industry in the latest podcast. You can listen to the show in the player below or read the following summary.

New Technologies

Innovation is at the heart of any technology revolution, especially when looking at the future of aviation. At Delft University, the Flying V, a newly designed aircraft, is starting to shape and possibly change air travel in the future. What began as an idea is now another step closer to reality with the successful launch of the scale model Flying-V.

Dr. Roelof Vos is an assistant professor at the aerospace engineering facility of Delft University of Technology where he is the head of the Flying-V project and responsible for the overall design. He teaches courses on aircraft design, aerodynamic design of transport aircraft, and aerodynamic design of combat aircraft. He is the author of the textbook, “Introduction to Transonic Aerodynamics.” During the past 10 years, Dr. Vos spent his time looking at how various technologies can improve airplanes and make them more sustainable.

“The Flying-V is one of those technologies,” Dr. Vos said. “It’s a pivotal technology and is a completely different airplane configuration; so much more than technology you apply to a wing or an engine. My passion for airplanes has resulted in the design of this radically new airplane configuration.”

Chief Engineer of the design of the model Flying V is Malcom Brown, who found his passion for aircraft in his youth when his father worked for South African Airways. From beginning with RC aircraft in his teenage years to participating in design competitions and enrolling in aerospace engineering at Deflt University, Brown worked his way up to become the chief engineer on the Flying V Project.

“I found that I have a passion for actual aircraft design,” Brown said. “I really love what I'm doing, it's an amazing job and I'm so proud to be part of hopefully the next step.”

 

The Flying V Project

The Flying-V was actually designed by a student, Justas Benad, who worked at Airbus as an intern. His original conception connected two fuselage barrels into a V-shape together and putting an aerodynamic shell around it. After studying and validating the initial design of Benad, Dr. Vos believed this new V-shaped airplane concept could become a reality.

“We started with a very independent study,” Dr. Vos explains. “We soon found, after about a year of analysis, that they were indeed valid and that the claims that were made by Airbus and Justas were quite credible. That's when I thought for the first time, "Hey, we might be onto something here with this new V-shaped airplane configuration."

Because the Flying-V is a whole new airplane configuration, it was important for Dr. Vos and his team to build a working, scaled-model prototype.

“It was very important to convince ourselves that what we were looking at full-scale would be flyable in practice,” said Dr. Vos. “So, we wanted to do this test to prove to ourselves that yes, this airplane can be flown and handled properly by a pilot.

For Brown’s part, he started giving the initial team at Delft some ideas but soon realized he wanted in on the project.

“I got involved along the process of designing and building the wind tunnel model,” Brown said. “Then naturally, it progressed from there. It's quite a big risk to build a full-scale prototype. So, to test out your ideas, you build a smaller one to see if it works out and that's what we're doing with the Flying-V.”

V is for Efficiency

The big reason for creating this new plane configuration is fuel conservation.

“There are three things that make the Flying V better than a normal airplane when it comes to efficiency,” Dr. Vos said. “It is 10% smaller than a normal airplane by means of the outside area. That reduces the friction drag of the airplane. It also has very large winglets that effectively increase the airplane's span, reducing the drag once again. And, thirdly, because we are distributing the weight laterally, we are also able to reduce the structural weight of the airplane.”

The combination of these three aspects reduces overall energy consumption by 20%.

According to Brown, “The main benefit is because you don't have a fuselage you're just dragging through the air. Instead, everything's built into a wing, which is contributing to your lift and the whole airplane is working more efficiently and synergistically.”

A Model of Excellence

The scale model of the Flying V is built from fiberglass composite material with portions of carbon fiber for extra stability.  One of the main challenges was to keep the entire weight under the regulated 25-kilogram maximum weight limit. This meant some of the electronic components had to be built and designed by the team to meet both the meticulous design criteria and regulations.

“It was a very big challenge because it's really quite a big aircraft,” Brown said. “Its wingspan is three meters, and to get all the equipment, payloads, components and electronics onboard was a very big challenge to stay under the 25 kilograms.”

The team was also excited to demonstrate many of the advanced technological components used in the Flying V.

“We wanted to use all of the best products so that we achieved the highest result that we can,” Brown revealed. “For example, we installed Schübeler EDFs, because we needed to get up to a large speed to be able to fly this aircraft that has quite a high wing load. So Schübeler really has efficient, yet powerful EDFs that we could use.”

From January of 2019 to July of 2020, the team refined the design, implemented modifications, and polished the final model of the Flying V in preparation for the maiden flight- which was a short but successful mission. Due to weight limitations, the team couldn’t use the full load of batteries.

Brown was pleased with the results. “The flight itself went very well,” he said. “We were all quite nervous about what would happen, but then it took off and it flew well. It was stable and controllable, but we could only fly for five minutes, which is what we had calculated.”

However, those five minutes of flight produced a bounty of data to help analyze actual flight dynamics.

“We were able to identify a mathematical model for the flight dynamics of the airplane,” Dr. Vos explains. “We are now in the process of coupling that mathematical model to a real flight simulator to give pilots the opportunity to experience this airplane.”

The future of the Flying V

The successful flight of the model Flying V helps lay the foundation for the expansion of the full scale project, but there are still a number of hurdles to development.  The test flight bolstered confidence and provided evidence that the design is airworthy. Dr. Vos is optimistic about the future.

“The airplane does hold a lot of promise,” he envisions. “I don't see any major hurdles that cannot be overcome. As a matter of fact, in terms of manufacturing this airplane, it's probably going to be even simpler than a conventional airplane that we're now looking at. One of the things that set this airplane apart is the fact that it doesn't have any high lift devices. We don't need any breakthroughs in any material technologies in order for this airplane to be viable from a commercial standpoint.”

Malcolm and the team are looking forward to more flights with the model Flying V for continued flight analysis.

“So, in the next flights, we will perform step inputs on each control surface and see what the reaction is so that we excite the natural motion of the aircraft, that will extend that data envelope that we have already. We have a lot of data, but we just want to extend that and make sure that it is correct what we measured the first time around.”

Delft University will continue to study technologies like the Flying V, that will help reduce emissions and make the aviation industry more sustainable for the future.

“If we want to do that sustainably in the future,” explains Dr. Vos, “we have to look at radical technologies like the Flying-V because the tube and wing aircraft, as we know it, has fully matured. There is very little to no gain to get out of that configuration. The Flying-V is one of those innovations that deserves some good attention to really deepen out all the outstanding questions that relate to this airplane.”

 

Brian Deis, president of Dream RC Airplanes, came to a crossroads about 10 years ago. He and his company had a knack for building wooden models for use in International Miniature Aerobatics Club (IMAC) competitions. He himself had built and flown wooden models for much of his life.

But the market had rapidly shifted toward ARFs – Almost Ready to Fly – models, meaning models that still required radio control gear and engine installation. Therefore, Deis shifted his focus toward higher-end clients, many of them in Europe.

 

 

  

Seemingly overnight, his company had gone from building wooden models to installing flying systems for largely composite models. But the unchartered territory didn’t end there. Most of his European clients insisted on electric engines, not the gas-powered ones to which he was accustomed. And they wanted them on planes bigger than what an electric engine could typically accommodate.

At that time, the fans used for air intake with electric motors were too small to power a big plane. Additionally, he’d have to adapt these planes in other ways to suit the electric motors, and Deis didn’t have an electrical engineer on staff.

He turned to Schübeler Technologies.

“It’s subtle, how you go about putting all that together,” Deis said. “The thrust, for instance, that thrust tube can be different sizes depending on whether you want power or you want speed. That’s where Christian Wileschek and everybody at Schübeler came in because we didn't know what those numbers were. They worked with us over the years to be sure we know, because the numbers aren't simple at all.”

A key to Dream RC Airplanes’ success over the past decade has been Schübeler Technologies’ work in the area of Electric Ducted Fans (EDFs), Deis said.

When Deis and his company began fitting planes with electric engines, the 50-millimeter fans used for intake at the time simply weren’t suited for big planes. Flash forward to today, backed by Schübeler’s EDF technology, Dream RC Airplanes installs electric flying systems on planes at sizes just not possible a decade ago.  And the Schübeler-made EDFs make these planes comparable to gas jets, Deis said.

As Dream RC worked on larger and larger planes for customers, it had to learn not only about EDF installation, but also gas conversion. A crucial factor in the conversion process is the plane’s center of gravity, Deis said. In a gas plane that center of gravity shifts during the flight due to the burning of fuel, whereas an electric plane comes down at the same weight at which it went up.

“That’s where you need to get your heads together with the folks at Schübeler, particularly with Christian, and find out how we're going to put motors in that thing from the standpoint of thrust,” Deis said. “Once that’s done then we have to figure out physically how to get the motors into it.”

One of the more popular gas to electric conversions by Dream RC was a 17-foot-plus Boeing 747 model, painted in Virgin Atlantic airlines branding. A video of this aircraft, prior to the electric conversion, has been viewed approximately 29 million times on YouTube. The six-minute segment, uploaded in August 2015, displays the the 17-foot-plus Boeing 747 model, which was at the time one of the largest in the world, taking off from a rural airstrip, and conducting a series of flybys for a delighted crowd before landing smoothly.

It had taken Deis and his team 90 days to convert that 747 to electric, and they even managed to add a little more power and shave a little weight off the previously gas-powered plane.

Schübeler Technologies’ support of his company has evolved, Deis said. As Dream RC dove into the world of electric-powered planes, Schübeler helped it learn how to install EDFs. Now that Dream RC has that down, Schübeler’s consultation services remain invaluable, helping Deis and his team figure out which components will work best for a particular plane.  And after assemblage, Dream RC runs a series of tests on the plane and sends the results to Schübeler, which analyzes the data.   

“There’s no one in the world that knows more about it than the Schübeler folks. So, we listen carefully to all of that,” Deis said. “Their support doesn’t end when the airplane’s done. If we have any suspicions about the airplane, they're right there to help us.”

To further thrive, Dream RC keeps on top of the latest advances in industries like paint and adhesives, Deis said. And while his company generally doesn’t need help in the planning and designing area of aeromodelling – the company’s bread and butter – it has relied on Schübeler in certain circumstances for its computer modeling and advanced research on high-quality electric drive systems for model aircraft technology. For instance, before it constructed the largest electric airplane ever built – an A380 airbus – Dream RC relied on Schübeler’s advanced information to help determine the plane’s center of gravity and properly design the plane.

Dream RC invested a staggering 3100 hours in the building of the 21-foot A380 airbus. The request had come from a customer who’d seen a similar 18-foot, gas-powered plane. Dream RC had the capabilities to build a plane of that size, but the largest EDFs available at the time weren’t nearly powerful enough to power an electric version.

Schübeler got to work on bigger EDFs, ones capable of powering the plane’s four motors with 50 pounds of thrust apiece. Meanwhile, Dream RC sought to overcome the other big, technical challenges in flying such a large, electric-powered plane.

To help get the center of gravity right, Dream RC built a 3-foot version to study things like the Lamner flow numbers and lift of the wings. Its electrical engineer ensured that, with nearly 80 pounds of batteries on board, no electrical errors doom the plane.

The recently arrived, newly created DS-215-DIA HST Impeller from Schübeler completed the project. The 300-pound monster of a plane, which requires two vans to transport it, is ready to go. Deis said his company has taxied it and will fly it with the customer soon.

While Dream RC is happy to accommodate customers desiring passenger models that fly straight and look real, Deis said, the company’s passion is in building the unique. Deis points to Dream RC’s work converting a Falcon 7X Aviation Design and solving the landing problems accompanying that conversion. He also points to a project the company took up on its own – an aerobatic, twin-engine jet airplane with a lot of power.

Presently Dream RC is collaborating with Schübeler on the conversion of the ultra-fast Diamond from Aviation Design. Its sleek design makes its conversion the type of challenge Deis relishes. He is confident their work will lead to an electric-powered plane that travels at more than 100 miles per hour.

With the successful transformation of his own company, Deis has an eye toward transforming the American market. EDFs have gained popularity in the States, he said, but the fans used are the 50-millimeter variety. This will change with the creation of larger planes that are affordable, uncomplicated and safe. He also hopes to break into the very small, high-end market Stateside. Deis estimates his company has installed more Schübeler EDFs than any other builder. And no doubt Schübeler Technologies will be alongside Deis and his team going forward.

“If you try to do it without somebody that’s really good on the technical side,” Deis said, “you're probably not going to produce an airplane that flies very well.”

 

Model airplanes conjure up plenty of “standard” imagery – putting them together, adding a little glue, and heading to the park to see how she flies.

But there’s so much more to the world of jet aeromodelling, and now may be the perfect time to get started in this rewarding pursuit.

Through the lens of Brett Becker, a noted expert and award-winning model aviator with more than three decades of experience, our latest podcast explores everything the world of model aviation and competition has to offer. Listen in the player or read the following summary.

 

Meet Bret Becker

Bret Becker is an expert and award-winning aeromodeller who’s been fascinated with aviation since he first experienced the movie Top Gun as a kid. The adrenaline rush from the film, combined with being able to see the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds at air shows ignited his passion for jets and launched him into the world of model airplanes.

He acquired an early start in high speed pylon racing and over the years developed an appreciation for scale models. It turned out that the world of R/C Jets captured his interest for both high performance flying and scale all in one satisfying hobby.

Over the past 30 years, he has honed and refined his skills as a designer, builder and pilot of model aircraft, winning accolades and awards for jets that have set speed records, been featured in articles, competed at scale competitions and even retired to the Academy of Model Aeronautics Museum and Hall of Fame.

The Evolution of Model Aviation

Model airplanes have come a long way. In Becker’s own journey in model aviation, he’s seen models get increasingly complex and inch closer and closer to the real jets and planes he admired so much as a child.

“Things have changed so much since I first started,” said Becker. “Prior to the internet, the way that you would find out what was the latest and greatest was either going to trade shows or reading the most recent magazine that was on the shelves at a magazine stand or bookstore.

Now, like so many aspects of modern society, the advent of the internet and the ballooning growth of technological innovations has allowed more people with a passion for model aviation than ever before to find others who share that passion.

Perhaps the biggest change, however, is simply the technology behind some of the world’s most impressive model airplanes and jets.

Electric Ducted Fans and Other Technological Leaps Propel Model Aviation to New Heights

In the past, the only way to make a jet-powered model airplane was to use a combustion engine, an expensive, time-consuming and unreliable proposition.

“Back 20 or 30 years ago, there was a very small community of people who were actually willing to put all of that effort into a model that might not even survive its first couple of flights,” Becker said.

Since then, with the help of companies like Schübeler Technologies, electrically powered models are more reliable, allowing them to last longer – and for new entrants into the field to start from a better position.

It was actually an introduction to Daniel Schübeler, in the late 90’s, that gave Bret a glimpse at the future of model jet performance.  While attending an aeromodelling event in San Diego called the Mid-Winter Electrics, Daniel was one of the very few people at that time to have an electric ducted fan from Schübeler technologies and a custom airplane called the Vector.

“Nobody had really seen anything like this in terms of its performance,” Becker said. “He was able to put on an incredible high-speed flight that was longer than anyone else. We were able to see this was the future. And now we’re here!  Jets are more accessible. You can get lithium power batteries. The cost has come down and it's just allowed the average modeler to be able to have that performance and make it affordable.”

Schübeler’s electric ducted fan solutions are part of a movement that’s seen such technology become the most popular choice for model aviation, particularly for airplanes under 30 pounds or so. They don’t use fuel or require tweaking and caring for many moving parts, are generally consistent and reliable over the lifetime of the plane and are more lightweight and portable.

“Nowadays, you can be fairly early in the hobby with very little experience and buy something off the shelf and be successful,” Becker said. “They're much more convenient. You can fit them in your car. You don't have to deal with fuel like a turbine jet would. For the average modeler, electric powered airplanes are a very convenient way of taking a day off on the weekend, going to the field, having a couple batteries charged, and going out there and having fun without having to work on the airplane at the field.”

The electric ducted fan technology from Schübeler Technologies is enabling modelers to build more advanced jet aircraft, whether it be for scale competition or for custom designers. Aeromodellers are now able to design, build and fly model airplanes that would have never previously been possible. Being able to rely on the EDF technology and their power system allows the designer to focus on another aspect of the model that might be challenging.

“You can design airplanes that are difficult to fly, or airplanes that are designed to go really fast, or airplanes that are supposed to be in the air for a really long time,” Becker explained. “Now, there is a trend in that electrics are getting bigger. And And Schübeler makes some ducted fans that are larger than any of other manufacturers that I'm aware of. They are very high-end, and they can power air frames that you would think that only jet powered turbine aircraft would otherwise be able to fly. And those are absolutely incredible and they're very high end. But again, they are very efficient and reliable.”

Bret’s model XB-70 Valkyrie

One of Bret’s award-winning projects was a model of the North American XB-70 Valkyrie. The inspiration for this build stemmed from a move to Dayton Ohio, home of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, which has the only remaining full size XB-70 in the world.

“As a fan of aviation,” Becker recalled, “I was looking forward to seeing the XB-70 at the museum, but I wasn't expecting much more than that. However, seeing it in person gave me a completely different perspective for the size and the complexity of this aircraft. I thought to myself, it would be incredible to make an RC version of this scale jet.”

At the time, there were not many modelers working on XB-70s, other than a few small kits that were not extremely detailed or representative of the full scale and impact of the jet. Becker was thinking of doing a scratch build by himself and reached out to a friend in California who had built one in the past.  As luck would have, that friend had crashed his custom designed XB-70 and was willing to let Becker use model to jumpstart his project.

“The plane needed some significant repairs,” Becker said. “So, I brought it to Ohio and spent a year gutting it, re-installing everything and making some structural changes to it. I also spoke to Daniel Schübeler at an event, and he was very interested in the airplane and the project. Schübeler fans were the go-to and they would provide the longest flight time that I could get with the space that I had for batteries.  Daniel was extremely helpful in providing advice on what fan units it would take to get an endurance of six to seven minutes for scale competition.”

In early 2017, Bret’s XB-70 was competition worthy and he received his first invite to participate in the elite Top Gun Invitational. Top Gun is a world famous, invitational scale competition for R/C aircraft. An XB-70 model had never previously competed in scale competition and its electric ducted fans added to its uniqueness. 

In 2017, Bret completed the required flight rounds and impressed the Top Gun Community receiving a Special Recognition award.  In 2019 Bret and his XB-70 received a 5th place finish in the expert class. 

Bret’s model Lockheed U-2

The current project that Bret is working on, a Lockheed U-2C jet model, will also be competing in the 2020 Top Gin Invitational. However, there’s more on the line than just winning an award. This project represents a legacy build designed by an aeromodeller named Rene Saenz.

“This was a composite project that Rene worked on for several years,” Becker explains. “He was extremely passionate about this model and the quality of the work that he did was incredible. It has thousands and thousands of rivets, which represent the full-scale rivets on the airplane, both on the wing and the fuselage. Unfortunately, Rene passed away and never had the chance to see his model completed. I have been given the honor to take this project and complete it as Rene would have liked.”

For the past 4 months Becker has been working on the project, motivated by the ingenuity of Rene Saenz, who had already crafted a design that is Top Gun worthy.  Bret is working on making the first flying U-2C from Rene’s molds. The plane will be designed to use a 120 millimeter EDF from Schübeler Technologies to help achieve the a seven minute flight time to compete.

“In scale competition,” Becker explains, “they're not only judging the airplane on the ground, but they're also judging how realistic does it look in the air. When it comes to model jets, sound is a big component, and there is nothing that sounds like a Schübeler fan which sounds like a turbine. The sound is so realistic and it's always appreciated by spectators.

Bret will be competing with his U-2C in the32nd Annual TOP GUN October. 28th - Nov. 1st, 2020 in Lakeland Florida.

The Best Time to Start Flying is NOW

Based on more than 30 years of experience, Becker doesn’t think there’s ever been a better time to get into aeromodelling than now. There are complex model airplanes available right out of the box such as an F-18 Hornet or an F-14 Tomcat. These kits make it easy and fun to get started and flying fast. Then, hobbyists can develop as they see fit.

 “I think the most important part of this hobby is to keep it fun,” Said Becker.  You can go out and purchase an airplane and if you want to make it unique put on your own paint scheme. If you're interested in having the highest performance of any jet at the field go research the latest and the greatest technology and try to upgrade your jet. Those small additions are what make the hobby fun and make each project something to look forward to. Half the fun is envisioning what you want your model to either look or perform like, and making that happen, making that dream a reality. I think if you keep that in mind, you're never going to stop loving the hobby.”

To learn how Schübeler is leading the way in the industry, contact us today.

Gunter Zielke created the first integrated smoke system for an EDF jet with support from Schübeler Technologies.

Electric motors are increasingly being used in aeromodelling projects to achieve a more realistic sound, feel and flight. In order to achieve the same accurate effects as conventional combustion models, ingenuity and extensive technical know-how are required. Gunter Zielke faced these challenges and enhanced the results by combining a smoke system for electrically powered model airplanes. Together with Schübeler Technologies, he created the first EDF jet with an integrated smoke system, in which the smoke can be switched on and off. The result: an electric model RC extreme jet airplane that can hardly be distinguished from a real airplane, both visually and in terms of the flight sound.

German engineering with a passion

Gunter Zielke always had a passion for flying RC model planes and jets. The German engineer began his aeromodelling career at the age of 15. Today, Gunter is the CEO of Smoke-Systems EL. His company developed a smoke system designed for RC model planes and jets. Working closely with the team at Schübeler Technologies he was able to integrate the first EDF jet with his patented smoke system. If you are looking to add realistic smoke effects to your model plane or jet and want to learn how you to integrate electric ducted fans from Schübeler Technologies, Gunter is your man.

First steps in the development of smoke systems

In 2009 Gunter started to plan, design and build his first big electric airplane. "Big engines were already available as were the first big batteries,” Gunter said. “But there was no electric smoke system for an electric airplane on the market.” 

Combustible engines were able to incorporate a smoke system from the start. “You only had to inject oil into the hot Exhaust system, and then you will have steam”, explains Gunter. “But in an electric airplane, there’s no combustor engine and therefore, you have no hot gasses.” So, he decided to create his smoke system to give aeromodellers with electric jets the chance to enhance their flight with realistic effects. But it wasn’t an easy project. “I was told it is physically impossible to do because the power you need is very, very high, for a liquid to become steam,” said Gunter. “You need much more power than is available.”

Schübeler Technology enhances the vision 

Gunter had to make various enhancements and fine tune his smoke system to get it working correctly. After some attempts, he decided to put the smoke tubes in the wingtips. On real airplanes, the vapor trails spin off the end of the wingtips. Gunter considered this and realized he could design the smoke system to simulate the vapor trails by implementing a G-Force Sensor. 

“When you think about real jets and when they do high-G maneuvers in very sharp curves, you will see small white trails at the wingtips”, says Gunter. “I could simulate that in the jet. And that was the reason why I need a jet to show this effect on the air shows.” 

As he started building an EDF jet as a demo model for the smoke system, he searched on the web, what kind of electric-driven fans are available and soon discovered Schübeler Technologies. He got in contact with them in 2018 and explained what kind of jet he would like to build. Schübeler was immediately interested. "They told me they would like to work with me,” Gunter explained. “They said, ‘Tell me what you need, and we will find a solution.’" The solution they settled on was to build a large-scale Eurofighter with electric-driven fans. “Together with Schübeler, we built the whole setup of the impellers, controllers and the battery packs.” 

Working with Schübeler helped speed up the progress of Gunter’s EDF jet.  “I produced the computer drawings, and they built the thrust tubes for me,” said Gunter. “The tubes Schübeler delivered were very light. I think 70 grams, very low from the weight. And they fit perfectly in the location where it should fit in the fuselage.” 

Another important point was the selection of the motor in the fan. Schübeler and Gunter discussed requirements like flight time, weight and speed. They put together all data and Schübeler recommended the best engine for Gunter to use.

And he is fully satisfied with this solution: “From the maiden flight, everything works perfectly. And we’ve flown over a year with this jet and have had no problems with the engine overall. It's been up and running right from the first time.”

Gunter is not the only pilot that can take his passion to the next level. Other aeromodellers can also benefit from Schübeler’s know-how. “If anyone wants to build an EDF jet, it doesn't matter how big it should be, go to the Schübeler website and see what kind of engines they have. This is made in Germany and it's running very well”, recommends Gunter. “If you have any questions talk to them, they will give you the outright answers.” 

Quick and easy smoke implementation

It’s very easy to outfit an existing model with the Smoke-EL system: “If you have an electric airplane, you already have a big battery to fly the plane and you can use the same battery for the smoke system. The implementation is very easy!”, assures Gunter. “We did it already on the airfield in less than three hours. You only have to install a small box, a SmokeDriver™which controls the whole system, a small pump and a very small tank.” 

All of this equipment is housed in the fuselage. On the wings, the system requires one hose and one cable to get attached – the hose for the oil, the cable for the power. Small smoke tubes get mounted at the wingtip. The receiver requires one free channel, to activate the smoke system. Another benefit is the fact that you only need 100 to 300 milliliter oil within one flight.

A Small sacrifice for a great effect

The implementation of the entire system adds nearly 800 grams, including the oil, to the weight of the model. 1000 mAh of power are required from the battery per flight. So, if you have an electric airplane like the Schübeler jets, you expect to sacrifice one minute of flight time. “You lose nearly one minute of the flight time. But I think it’s worth it to create the great smoke effect on the wings,” affirmed Gunter.

There are no specific enhancements or additional maintenance people need to buy if they go with the smoke system. However, you do need to use the special smoke oil from Smoke EL. “It takes more than one year to create this oil because the oil has a very low steam point. The steam point has to be very low to save electric power”, explained Gunter. “Otherwise, users have to clean the tubes sometimes. That’s it.”

Future Plans

Gunter is now exploring how to create colored smoke. “People all over the world ask me which different colors are available. For now, the only answer is white, because it is steam and steam is white. So, I am looking for a solution to create colored smoke,” announces Gunter.

Impressive live performances

To get a good impression of this outstanding system you have to see it in the air. Gunter had a great opportunity in Austria to demonstrate its capabilities. “This year it was very difficult for us to present our solution. We didn't have many air shows. However, with the Eurofighter, I was able to participate in a great demonstration in Austria,” says Gunter. 

At this show, his jet flew in formation with two other Eurofighters, but only Gunter’s was electric. As the organizer realized the speed and performance of the electric Eurofighter, he allowed Gunter to fly within the program. “We flew a formation with three jets, two with gas turbines, and mine with two EDF engines. There was no difference in performance and my jet was definitely not the slowest!” 

Furthermore, the air show in Austria showed that the sound of the Eurofighter is great. “It sounds like a silent turbine, and you can't hear that it is electric-driven. The sound is very cool!” 

Next year Gunter will also try to fly in other countries. The EDF-Jet from Schübeler will probably be presented at air shows throughout Europe. Until then, you can see videos at www.smoke-systems.com or www.smoke-el.de. There is also a movie of the jet to download or to see at the https://www.edf-jets.de website. “I encourage you to watch these videos,” Gunter teased. At first, you might not be sure if you are looking at a full-sized jet or an aeromodel.” 

 

 

Schübeler EDF products provide cleaner option for RC aeromodellers to fly with less noise, more efficiency

There’s a cleaner, quieter way to fly radio-controlled, high-speed jet model aircraft without a turbine-powered engine.

Electric duct fans (EDF) operate with less noise and more efficiency while still offering RC aeromodellers the potential to experience the thrill of seeing their winged replicas soar through the air. EDF planes run with multi-bladed propellers, taking in air and spinning at high speeds.

“When all components have been carefully selected and installed, the customer can expect a model aircraft with long-lasting excellent performance and reliable propulsion,” said Christian Wileschek, sales expert for RC business with Schübeler Technologies.

“But what is also important is that is quieter than a gas turbine” and doesn’t emit fumes, Wileschek added. 

 

Founded in 1997, Schübeler Technologies has built a global business by providing advanced fan propulsion jets and lightweight composite materials. Schübeler offers a full lineup of products including turbo fans, jets, compressors and pumps, along with an RC sports hobby division that makes electric duct fans and components for high-speed jet model airplanes. 

But RC aeromodelling is more than just a business for Wileschek and Daniel Schübeler, founder of Schübeler Technologies.

Wileschek first got interested in aeromodelling as a child. He drifted away from the hobby as he grew older before meeting Schübeler in 2010 and then going to work for him.

“It didn't take long for the fascination to get back in my head. Daniel motivated me to get active again,” Wileschek said.

Combine that passion with quality work and experience in the business, and it’s no surprise that Schübeler has built a reputation of providing comprehensive service for aeromodellers looking for a smooth EDF conversion.

“We look into every detail: the aerodynamic features of the fan itself, rotor blades, stator blades, the inlet design, the outlet design,” Schübeler said. “That’s our approach to come up with a great EDF solution. We look at the whole project for the customer.”

A technical playground

Aeromodelling covers a wide array of models including gliders, propeller planes, helicopters and jets, with each aircraft offering different challenges. But while Schübeler Technologies has made successful forays into traditional aviation, aeromodelling remains an important focus of the business. 

“The development of products for aeromodellers, especially for electrically driven jets, is something that’s still very special,” Schübeler said.

Technically, it’s a demanding task, making it especially important to produce high-quality products for hobbyists that are efficient and affordable. 

“It’s technical playground for us here in the company,” Schübeler said. “I mean this very seriously - in aeromodelling, you have no limits.”

Tailwind and possibilities

Model jets propelled by turbines fueled by kerosene soar using a lot of energy. EDF planes run on batteries that have improved over the past two decades thanks to technological developments in the industry.

EDF planes that run on batteries have other advantages too. 

“The development of safer transmitters, brushless motors and the LiPo battery technology have given the model aircraft hobby a lot of tailwind and possibilities,” Wileschek said.

Some RC aeromodellers may be looking to switch to EDF because airfields may have noise restrictions that in effect ban the use of combustion engines. Some hobbyists may be tiring of the fumes that come with using kerosene. 

Or an RC aeromodeller might be convinced to make the switch just by taking an electric RC jet for a test flight. 

“The fact that it's possible to fly jets electrically with almost turbine-like sound and convincing performance, it's just great. And for jet model builders who are more electrically oriented, building a jet replica is the highest art,” Wileschek said.

Setting the standard

Schübeler Technologies takes pride in getting the details right, making the company the ideal partner for enthusiasts seeking to switch to EDF.

Schübeler can help customers figure out expected flight speeds and flying times, controller recommendations and optimized controller settings, offering service and advice.

“And then of course battery choice and size. So that sets our approach to come up with a great EDF solution,” Schübeler said. “So we look at the whole project of the customer.”

Noted Wileschek: “We have been setting standards for many years now. So, when a customer works with Schübeler, he can be sure to get a durable and safe product with excellent performance and sound, of course.”

Below, Schübeler and Wileschek offer more information through a tutorial on picking the right EDF technology for your plane.

How do you select the right size of fan for an airframe?

Wileschek: Selecting the correct fan size is based on the size of the air intake and the outlet area of the model. Each Schübeler fan has a certain fan swept area measured in square centimeters that can be found in the model number or description. For example, “51” in a model number would denote a fan swept area of 51 square centimeters. Ideally, this size matches or comes close to the size of the intake area of the plane. If the intake of a jet model airplane is too small, and you install a fan that doesn't match the intake area of the aircraft, the fan cannot generate full power. So it's important to compare size of the intakes and fan swept area of the EDF.

What about input power, motor size, and battery size? 

Wileschek: Selection of input power, motor size and battery capacity is based on the takeoff weight of the aircraft. In addition, most customers request a specific type of battery cells. They want to use, for example, 12S, or 14S, for the CARF Joker, or for a smaller EDF jet, like the Mini Avanti, it's the 6S. We recommend the right EDF setup with controller and a battery capacity to achieve a flight time of five to seven minutes. 

Schübeler: The Schübeler EDF setup is very efficient, which generates a very high thrust - so a very high performance. We can also offer a long duration setup. We have jet-like performance with the approach and we have sufficient flight time. It's maybe not super important for a smaller jet, but it's super important for a serious jet project. You don't want to lose your jet because the battery is empty. 

Are there other practical considerations for component installation?

Wileschek: Importance should always be placed on the installation of all components. The area between the air intake and fan should be as free as possible so that the air inside the fuselage comes very clean to the fan without too much turbulence. And all components such as cables should always be fixed properly because the fan sucks in everything that's not fixed well. In addition, it's necessary to attach an inlet lip to the fan so that the air can be sucked in very clean.

So when all the new gear is installed, how will flight performance compare to a turbine-powered RC plane? 

Wileschek: The customer can expect a model aircraft with long lasting and excellent performance, and reliable propulsion with a nice turbine sound. But what is also important is it will be quieter and a more pleasant experience than a gas turbine. 

Schübeler: With turbines, it's interesting. You cannot do so much wrong, but if you do things really badly wrong, your model burns. … It's a nice technology. I like turbines. But we are focused on electrically driven jets here, of course. With turbines, it's just more effort. It's maybe also a little bit more costly, because of service, maintenance and the price of a turbine. 

How fast can you go? 

Schübeler: If you install the EDF the right way, if you have a good frame, you can go insanely fast. With a sport jet, 350 kph is no problem. But with a special speed jet project that I am testing with a colleague, we’re aiming for 500 kph. We could go faster if we decide to go with a bigger EDF system. And I think the fastest turbine jet is close to 700 kph.

If you look at the practical side of aeromodelling, you want to go to your field, unpack your plane and start flying. EDF makes that possible. You install your batteries and you’re ready to go. Once your setup works - your  flying. You need a little bit of infrastructure for loading and you need to have three sets of batteries, but you can have a really nice day of jet flying with a proper EDF model. 

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