Luka Znidarsic, the Slovenian Schempp-Hirth representative and CEO of LZ Design has successfully added an engine to his Ventus 2: His company had been working on electric propulsion systems for several types of gliders. So far some LAK gliders have received a front electric sustainer, and they are already flying in different countries.
FES is an innovative Front Electric Selflaunch / Sustainer propulsion system for (powered) sailplanes, where a foldable propeller is integrated into the glider’s nose. The electric power is delivered by batteries built into the sailplane’s fuselage. Looking at the pictures of the FES equipped Ventus 2 you might be reminded of some mouse-like animal? Oh no, this propulsion system of course has a lot more to offer:
For this design LZ design had ordered a specially prepared Ventus 2 at the Schempp-Hirth factory, where special changes had been made to the fuselage moulds to allow for battery fitting and cables to the front engine. Luka’s unique Ventus-2cxa FES had its first flight on May, 10th 2014. His second trip on May, 15th was already a 1000 km flight (without engine use…), which can be followed on OLC. He then travelled across Europe and recently visited Schempp-Hirth in Kirchheim to introduce his German colleagues to the fine glider. The meeting was a success, as LZ’s engine design on a Ventus 2 was very much appreciated by the glider’s manufacturer. After marrying engine and glider, quality and performance of the whole system are said to be even better than expected.
Both companies now decided to use their knowledge jointly to start a series of self-sustaining Ventus-2cxa for the soaring world. A serial production is not yet approved by the authorities; the first powered Ventus-2cxa FES should be ready for purchase in 2015 though. A self-launching version is not planned. Tilo Holighaus explains: “The system is wonderfully easy to handle and its clean, quiet nature exactly meets the classic soaring philosophy.” His pictures offer a first impression of the concept. More information can be found in Schempp-Hirth’s English news section.