– The Florida Institute of Technology announced today a new student-driven research program to develop a high efficiency fuel cell-powered electric
aircraft. This new multi-phase education and demonstration project, sponsored by the non-profit Foundation for Advancing Science and Technology Education
(FASTec) and Diamond Aircraft of Austria, will use the Diamond H-36 Dimona Motor-Glider. A gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine currently powers this
Dr. Bill Chepolis, associate professor in Florida Tech’s School of Aeronautics, said the program will progress in three stages.
“We’ll begin with design and economic analyses of performance and propulsion options. This will include modeling, simulation and cost versus risk
assessments,” said Chepolis. “Then, we will further the design process by addressing human factors, safety and environmental impact concerns.”
“We will then complete and test a prototype. Once tested, we will optimize the design for functionality, cost-of-ownership and systems scale-up potential,”
Dr. Michael Karim, dean of the School of Aeronautics, said the new project would combine several of the university’s strengths.
“Faculty and students from several fields in both the School of Aeronautics and the College of Engineering will work to make this project a reality,” Karim
said. “It will give our students a wonderful opportunity to do cross-disciplinary research, and will enable the university to make a contribution to the
future of human flight.”
James Dunn, executive director of FASTec, said the new program will literally propel air travel into the 21st century.
“Although virtually all elements of air travel have improved exponentially in the 100 years since the Wright Brothers’ first flight, we are still using the
same inefficient internal combustion engines,” said Dunn. “However, the technology now exists for quiet, emission-free, electric-powered flight. That is
the crucial next step in aeronautics.”
Karim said the project should last 3-5 years.