Powering Imagination LLC was founded by its CEO Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, to promote sustainable aviation and innovations through initiatives in electric flight, alternative aviation fuels, and aircraft noise reduction.
In late April, two of those initiatives were addressed when the company announced that it would be partnering with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to create an electric flight program focused on reducing aircraft emissions and noise through the development of electric propulsion systems.
Lindbergh and Dr. Richard Anderson, Director of the Eagle Flight Research Center at Embry-Riddle, discussed during the announcement that the project is aimed reducing the "significant amount of pollutants" that commercial aerospace engines emit into the atmosphere. Noise was also brought up as increasingly an issue around the world, restricting access to airports and inconveniencing the surrounding communities. Electric and hybrid-electric power systems offer the potential to significantly reduce both noise and emissions.
Powering Imagination’s Quiet Flight Initiative will partner with the Green Flight Program at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach, FL, campus, where students and faculty will convert a Diamond HK36 motorglider to electric power for testing in noise-sensitive areas.
The aircraft will also be used for assessing new components of electric propulsion systems to provide real-world evaluation under flight conditions. This airborne lab will enable more efficient R&D on electric power systems by creating an aircraft that can be reconfigured to test new innovations from different companies and development teams.
Embry-Riddle and Powering Imagination estimate that the aircraft will make its first flight in mid-2015 at the Daytona Beach Campus.
Both Powering Imagination and Embry-Riddle are currently raising funds for this multiyear initiative to enable the purchase of the HK36 airframe, the conversion of the aircraft to electric power, and the operation of the plane for testing methods of reducing emissions and noise.