Our Plan: An Electric Airplane that Flies Forever

PATENT PENDING: 61/618,482 Long Range Electric Airplane and Method of Operating Same (McKenna, Long & Aldridge, LLP)

Compared to fossil fuels and the range that we’ve come to expect from our vehicles, battery energy density is always going to fall well short of what is needed to convert consumers en masse to full EV adoption.  For electric airplanes, the demands on battery energy density is much more critical than cars.  Even the most optimistic view of future lithium battery energy density tells us that a legitimate battery-powered airplane, with real passengers and real payload, to fly thousands of miles, is never going to happen in our lifetimes.  Yet we refuse to accept that such long-range / over-ocean missions are impossible, and we are not the types to sit around waiting and pinning our success on another industry’s technology roadmap and timeline, so as the follow-on to our successful electric superbike program, we are tackling the impossible dream of long-range, and even infinite range, electric flight.

Our idea is to develop an aircraft system where we can remove and/or replace dead batteries during flight.  This is basically the mid-air refueling of an electric plane!

By replacing battery packs in flight, the pressure for finding ultimate energy-dense cells is relieved somewhat, reducing system cost and risk – use readily-available commercial off the shelf (COTS) batteries if you want, just replace them in-flight more often.  In the simplest design example, our plane starts with a large quantity of batteries, and jettisons half of them after a third of the flight distance (more energy is consumed during takeoff and initial climb so you burn half the pack sooner than half distance), resulting in a >40% range extension from the massive in-flight aircraft weight reduction.  If you want more range, simply break your single, monolithic pack into 10 smaller packs for example, consume them sequentially during the flight and jettison each when it is depleted, and presto – your have increased your range >90%.  Now, if you are really adventuresome, like some people we know, and you want to fly across an ocean or even around the world, then give your droppable battery pack a set of wings and then it glides to the ground for recovery/ recharging while a freshly charged battery pack with wings is launched to rendezvous with you to power your next flight segment – it’s a system of dockable, flying UAV battery packs and now you can fly forever!

We believe this is the future of flight, and we are enabling electric aircraft to be built today that can fly legitimate missions without relying on the battery industry to enable us with impossible energy densities.

This concept is very doable with the clever application of known technologies and some of our patented ideas thrown in to make it happen.  By dropping dead packs and docking fresh packs, an infinite range electric flight is possible – the holy grail of electric vehicle development – the reason we jump out of bed and race to work – this is truly a mission worth getting behind.  Cue our furiously-typing patent attorneys.  Rally the investors.  World records?  Oh yes.  Profit?  That too.

–Chip Yates