Orville and Wilbur Wright might have developed the gasoline-powered aircraft in 1903, setting the stage for transportation via flight, but had never imagined an entirely different possibility in 2016- electric aircraft.
Students attending the National University of Singapore recently built a three-winged paraglider they named The Delta that travels at a maximum speed of 22 miles per hour and relies on electricity.
The students benefited greatly from learning to construct the aircraft. Perhaps the experience, which highlights skills dependent on engineering and physics, would encourage more students to become interested in green transportation. The electric aircraft, however, is more applicable to recreational uses.
Some potential applications could be the sport of paragliding.
Electrical engineering student Chan Wai Yang expressed, “Designing and building The Delta was an experience like no other. It was an engineering challenge we greatly relished.”
How did the students gain the opportunity to explore aircraft engineering? Through their professor.
Professor Martin Henz decided to take on The Delta construction for the National Geographic Channel’s Machine Impossible series. The professor and students had a significant amount of freedom, at least within a budget, to build an aircraft of any form.
Picture The Delta as a relatively small machine that seats just one adult, can fly at 22 miles per hour, and needs to be recharged every 10 minutes. It does take 45 minutes to charge, but the construction of the aircraft was well thought-out.
The Delta frame is composed of carbon fiber and aluminum, while the batteries are the lithium polymer type. The eight-kilowatt electric motors dependent on the batteries for flight and engaging the attached parachute.
Henz complimented the project’s value, “Such projects have tremendous value in the education of our students in engineering. The Delta could possibly be a great contribution to the sport of paragliding.”