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Embry-Riddle’s “eSpirit” Reaches Milestone in Electric Propulsion System

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s (ERAU) “eSpirit” electric aircraft has reached the taxi-test stage after four years of development. The Diamond HK-36-based project, dubbed eSpirit of St. Louis as a nod to Charles Lindbergh’s “notion of balance between aviation and the environment,” is a testbed for students and faculty to develop a unique electric propulsion system.

According to ERAU, Dr. Richard “Pat” Anderson, director of the Eagle Flight Research Center, piloted the HK with student Joseph Thiemer and actively “programmed and monitored parameters in the motor inverter/speed controller and monitored the battery management system.”

“Successful tests such as our most recent taxi are large steppingstones toward goals that are shaping the future of air transportation with hybrid and electric platforms,” said Joseph Thiemer, an Aerospace Engineering student completing his bachelor’s degree.

The eSpirit program is long running, with its first power-up in 2017. The pace is not unexpected, since, according to ERAU, “Retrofitting the aircraft is almost entirely a student-based project designed to give them hands-on and research experience in electric aviation and hybrid propulsion. Faculty provide oversight as three aerospace engineering students … work on overall implementation, project planning and management, test procedures and execution.”

Watch the Electric Propulsion Taxi Test.