Page 54 - Sharp September 2021
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Hamilton’s aviation legacy soars into the future with Smartflyer
F ROM THE COMFORT OF A BUSINESS CLASS POD, IT’S EASY to forget that modern aircraft are engineering marvels, able to cross the planet more quickly and efficiently than ever before. Despite these advances — and as cars, buses, and trucks shift to electric power — our planes still run on fossil fuels and internal combustion engines. One small aviation lab in Switzerland, however,
is working on a solution to this problem: Smartflyer.
“Anyone who has ever ridden in an electric car knows how great it is when a huge torque silently accelerates the car as if pushed by magic. That’s exactly the feeling I wanted to have in an airplane,” says CEO Rolf Stuber, who founded Smartflyer in 2016. “I wanted to build an aircraft that had the characteristics of a Tesla.” With a propeller positioned on its tail and an electric motor assisted by a range-extender, the Smartflyer promises to dramatically reduce both emissions and noise pollution while offering upward of 800
km of flight range.
Smartflyer’s mission is being supported by a new partnership
with Swiss watchmaker Hamilton, which has been making cut- ting-edge aviation timepieces like the Khaki Aviation Converter and Khaki Aviation X-Wind for more than 100 years. “Since the beginning, Hamilton has supported the flying community, build- ing ahead-of-their-time aviation wristwatches for the pilots of the inaugural U.S. Airmail service in 1918,” says Hamilton CEO Vivian Stauffer. “We recognized then the importance of flight, and have continued our commitment by connecting adventure to accuracy with precision timepieces embraced by pilots and aviation enthusiasts around the world.”
Currently in the prototyping phase, with its first flight anticipated for 2023, Smartflyer’s four-seater SFX1 is an unusual aircraft in both looks and performance. Its unique propeller configuration delivers thrust more efficiently than conventional designs, while a modular power source in the plane’s nose is designed to be easily adapted to hybrid, pure electric, and hydrogen power sources. Thanks to the lighter weight and greater efficiency of the SFX1’s electric motor, it’s expected to cruise at 220 km/h while producing 50 per cent less carbon dioxide than a traditional plane.
In addition to continuing Hamilton’s legacy of flight and combat- ting climate change, Stauffer — a long-time pilot of both motorized
aircraft and gliders — is also invested on a personal level. “My first solo flight in a mo-
torized plane took place more than 30 years
ago,” he says. “Pilots are lifelong learners, acquiring new skills as new technology be- 1. comes available. I am always looking towards
the next horizon, and I cannot wait to be able to fly such a plane.”
While the thrill of piloting a power- ful electric aircraft is irresistible for pilots like Stauffer, that’s just the beginning of Smartflyer’s potential. If Stuber and his team are successful, the technology they are pioneering will be fitted onto countless small planes, and, eventually, scaled up to larger ones. “We want to become number one in the small aircraft market by building an electric aircraft that is efficient and gentle with our resources,” Stuber says. “By flying almost emission-free, we are building the new era of aviation.”

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