Apr 1, 2015
The hybrid glider is coming to town
Glider flying rates high on the scale of sport flying. However, the nature of the beast is that it requires more than one person to get a glider launched into the air. To make launching a non-team effort, the answer has been a powered glider that can be self-launched and then stay aloft in powerless flight.
Now, a British company named ProAirsport is developing a self-launching system using hybrid electric and jet power. Their proposed aircraft falls into the British microlight certification standards, and how or if it will be certified for the U.S. market remains an open question.
For the most part, self-launched gliders have been propeller driven. Small jets have been used before but poor static thrust means take-off runs are impractically long and fuel consumption high. ProAirsport is seeking to take advantage of the jet engine and overcoming it shortfalls with electric powered wheels in a project they call "GloW."
The small turbine engine is light weight with few moving parts and low vibration when compared to reciprocating engines. Turning the engine on (and off) is a simple automated procedure. A small air scoop is all that opens (and closes), the engine itself remains inside the fuselage, so in flight the turbine can be turned on and off easily with minimum effect on the glide performance. Their engine of choice is the AMT Titan producing max thrust of 88 pounds. According to ProAirsport, this engine is a tried and tested unit with a long in-service record.