Students from ETH Zurich develop an electric aircraft with components from GESIPA®

In the fifth and sixth semester, students at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) are given an annual focus project. This involves developing a product that attempts to solve a market-oriented problem. One of these project teams managed to build the “e-Sling” – an electric aircraft with a modular battery system – the first in the world of its type. In the development phase of the aircraft, the ETH students chose blind rivet nuts as well as GESIPA® tools as a fastening solution. SFS met Maurice Kaulich, the project manager responsible for the ETH students, to talk about e-Sling in order to find out more about the progress of this exciting project.

Added value

  • CO2 reduction in the aviation industry
  • Developing new technologies thanks to collaboration with students
  • Meeting sustainable objectives together
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Used GESIPA® blind rivets

“Hello Maurice. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We are delighted to have you here today to answer our questions. What can e-Sling do and what is special about this electric aircraft?”

“The aircraft was built on the basis of the Sling TSi, an aircraft kit from 2018. Our objective was to develop an efficient electronic drive and a modular battery system, as well as to demonstrate overall technical airworthiness. Here are some facts about our aircraft:

  • Space: 4 persons
  • Range: 250 km
  • Wingspan: 10.5 m
  • Maximum take-off weight: 950 kg
  • Cruising speed: 160 km/h
  • Battery capacity: 50 kWh
  • 75% reduction in noise pollution
  • No CO2 emitted during consumption

The e-Sling focus project aims to revolutionize air travel and pave the way for green air travel. As a “mobility of the future” project, we want to initiate far-reaching change in the world and help to shape it ourselves.”

Construction of e-Sling as time lapse

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A part of the ETH project team

“Why did you choose an electric aircraft as a focus project?”

“Many of us were already fascinated by aviation and have become interested in e-mobility. With e-Sling, we did not want to miss the chance to bring the two areas together and, in doing so, move e-aviation forward. Many of us are interested in the sustainable aspect of developing a carbon-neutral aircraft. Furthermore, it was the perfect opportunity to get hands-on experience of the concepts learned on the university course by developing a real product and to master various technical engineering challenges.”

“How did the collaboration with GESIPA® come about? How important is sustainable thinking and acting when selecting your partners?”

“We needed blind rivets and blind rivet nuts for the aircraft. GESIPA® is the best-known supplier for us, with a large variety of blind rivets, blind rivet nuts and associated setting tools. We saw on the website that GESIPA® also offered a large selection of connectors and tools. We had tremendous support from GESIPA®, for which we are very grateful. In addition, we are very happy to work with a company which attaches great importance to sustainability and acts accordingly when deciding what to focus on and where to position itself. We hope we are able to jointly do our bit to reduce CO2 emissions.”

GESIPA® blind rivet setting tool

“Which GESIPA® products are used in an electric aircraft? Did you have any experience before this project of how blind rivets and blind rivet nuts are used and set?”

“In the main, two pieces of GESIPA® equipment were used in assembling the aircraft kit. We used AccuBird® Pro to set blind rivets. We made a conscious decision to use a battery-operated setting pistol so that we would also be able to work inside the aircraft without needing cumbersome hoses. For blind rivet nuts, we used the pneumatic-hydraulic FireFox® 2, which is perfectly suited to working with precision. In the case of M3 blind rivet nuts made with aluminum, the thread has often already been damaged by the manual setting tool, as the power has to be finely dosed with the utmost care in order to pull the blind rivet nuts. If too much power is used, the setting tool rips the thread out. The FireFox® 2 setting tool provides an exact force setting and consequently delivers outstanding results. We exclusively used GESIPA® blind rivets and blind rivet nuts. Setting was very easy for all of us to learn.”

“What is your conclusion regarding the cooperation with GESIPA®?”

“The tools are top quality. Our experience of working with your team has been brilliant and we have really valued the exchange. Thanks to the high-quality equipment, we were able to work on the project without interruption.”

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Maurice Kaulich

“What comes next for you at ETH Zurich?”

“Some students had to revise for their final ETH session examinations after completing the project in June. We are nearing the end of our bachelor’s degree courses at ETH. At the start of the new semester in autumn 2021, a new generation of students will be taking over the project and will further improve the e-Sling. The previous team will still be available to support them.”

GESIPA® thanks Maurice Kaulich for the interesting interview and wishes the team all the best with the e-Sling. GESIPA® is proud to be part of this project and hopes to be able to support other such young, committed people in the future.

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