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How should I use Voyager

Voyager is a portable power source designed to start your helicopter and/or provide auxiliary power for electrical components or accessories.  Avion Power recommends using Voyager for starts and auxiliary power during normal flight operations, for emergency self-rescue when lead-acid batteries are discharged, and during maintenance activities.

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Why should I use Voyager?

Voyager offers operational and economic advantages to helicopter service companies, commercial pilots, military pilots, maintenance professionals, and private pilots.

Operational advantages

  • Voyager’s superior cranking power and consistently high voltage results in more powerful turbine starts
  • Voyager ensures that a helicopter with a low battery will never be stranded. Emergency usage may be rare, but when it occurs, it could save a life or maintain a valuable corporate relationship.
  • Voyager increases an aircraft's power reserves.  Longer run-time for electronic equipment expands operational capabilities.
  • Maintenance crews using Voyager as a lightweight, auxiliary power source will benefit from increased efficiency and freedom of movement.

Economic advantages

  • Maintenance expense is lower because Voyager’s powerful turbine starts result in less stress on all engine components including the starter, mission computers, digital engine controls, and avionics.
  • Lead-acid batteries will last longer if pilots start helicopters with Voyager.  Doing so transfers the stress of turbine starts, especially cold starts, to Voyager, which is designed to start helicopter turbines thousands of times.  Lead-acid batteries can handle less demanding power requirements for a long time.
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Who is using Voyager now?

Our aviation batteries were developed for and deployed by the US Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.  The technology is now available to the commercial aviation market.

Voyager's launch in the commercial market is highly anticipated by key members of the aviation community.  We expect significant demand from the following sectors of the marketplace:

  • Law enforcement
  • Emergency medical services
  • Oil services
  • Pilots operating in remote areas
  • Civilian pilots
  • Aircraft maintenance professionals
  • Fixed-base operators
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What type of aircrafts can Voyager start?

Voyager is a 28V/20Ah, portable power source designed to satisfy the starting requirements of single-engine and twin-engine helicopters.  Voyager also meets the starting requirements of many smaller fixed-wing aircraft.

Voyager can serve as an auxiliary power source for any aircraft with a NATO power receptacle.

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How many helicopters can a fully charged Voyager start?

A fully charged Voyager will start more than ten helicopters.  Voyager exhibits minimal voltage drop during a start and recovers immediately; multiple, repetitive starts are possible.  This performance is dependent on the specific power requirements of the helicopters and prevailing environmental conditions.

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How long can Voyager serve as an auxiliary power source on the ground

Voyager's ability to power an aircraft's electrical systems and accessories is dependent on the electrical load of the systems in use and the prevailing environmental conditions.  Our field tests have confirmed the following results.

  • Voyager can power on-board, medical equipment for at least 60 minutes and then start the helicopter (EC 135 P2+)
  • Voyager can power a helicopter while adding or removing fuel for at least 120 minutes
  • Voyager can power cockpit instrumentation for more than three hours and then start the helicopter multiple times
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How do I recharge Voyager?

Voyager has an integrated charging circuit that manages recharging.  Two power supply options are available, an in-flight charging cable that allows Voyager to accept power from the aircraft's 28V bus or a traditional power supply that accepts 110-220V from wall outlets, worldwide.

Voyager will fully recharge in about an hour, it has zero memory effect, and negligible self-discharge if unused for long periods of time.

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How do hot and cold temperatures effect Voyager's performance

Voyager can be used in temperatures ranging from -20C to 60C and safely stored between -40C and 60C.  Voyager offers outstanding performance in hot temperatures and, like all batteries, it's performance diminishes in the cold. Fortunately, Voyager's size and portability allow pilots to prevent "cold-soaking" by carrying Voyager inside or by placing it in a sleeping bag.

If Voyager is "cold-soaked" below it's operating temperature, pilots should follow our extreme-cold warming procedure.

  • Power voyager "on" and connect it to the aircraft
  • Power "on" enough on-board electronics to draw 20A from the Voyager for five minutes

This simple procedure, will warm Voyager's internal temperature and a turbine start will be possible.

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What is Voyager's life expectancy

A battery's life expectancy is typically measured by cycle life and calender life.  Cycle life is defined as the number of times a battery can be charged and discharged before its capacity falls below 80 percent of its original capacity.  Calendar life is defined as the ability of a battery to maintain discharge and regeneration energy over time, irrespective of use conditions.

Voyager's cycle and calendar lives exceed 2000 cycles and 5 years, respectively.

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Describe the Modular Battery System

Avion Power's Modular Battery System (MBS) is a battery technology originally designed for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.  The Regiment needed a scalable power source that could satisfy the power needs of multiple airframes and sophisticated weaponry.  The MBS allows a battery's size, weight, power, and capacity to be optimized according to its intended use.

The MBS has successfully completed testing related to performance, safety, adverse environments, and electromagnetic interference.  The U.S. government’s safety of flight review board approved the technology and an Air Worthiness Release was awarded.

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Which lithium-ion chemistry is used in Voyager?

The term lithium-ion is a widely used, catch-all term that refers unspecifically to different varieties of batteries that depend on lithium ions to carry current between electrodes.  Lithium cobalt oxide, lithium manganese oxide, lithium iron phosphate, lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide, lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide, and lithium titanate all use lithium ions to move current, but the specific chemical reactions are different because the component materials are different.  Understandably, different chemical reactions produce varying levels of specific energy, specific power, safety, performance, life span, and cost.

Voyager uses an enhanced lithium iron phosphate chemistry called lithium-ion nanophosphate.  Lithium iron phosphate batteries offer enhanced safety, good thermal stability, high current output, and long life cycles.  Nanophosphate technology further improves these benefits and is the safest, most appropriate battery chemistry for aviation applications.

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How safe are nanophosphate lithium-ion batteries?

Nanophosphate lithium-ion batteries are very safe, especially when compared to other lithium-ion chemistries.  They are safer because the specific chemical reaction is inherently safer and because the component materials are more stable and tolerant of abusive conditions.

The chemical process that occurs within a nanophosphate lithium-ion battery differs from that of other lithium-ion batteries because all of the lithium ions are transferred between the anode and cathode during a charge/discharge event.  Incomplete transfer of lithium ions between the anode and cathode allows lithium to plate onto the anode in metallic form.  Metallic lithium is more reactive than ionic lithium and is therefore more dangerous.  Nanophosphate lithium-ion batteries are safer because they do not create metallic lithium.

The component materials used in nanophosphate lithium-ion batteries are also more stable than those used to make metal oxide lithium-ion batteries.  This increased stability results in improved tolerance of abusive conditions.  Conditions such as high temperature or exposure to excess voltage can damage metal oxide cathodes and cause the battery to explode.  When exposed to similar conditions, nanophosphate lithium-ion batteries release only a small amount of heat and oxygen and do not exhibit the energetic thermal reaction that metal oxide lithium-ion cells experience.  This improved chemical stability of nanophosphate lithium-ion batteries lowers both the probability and severity of battery malfunctions and adds an increased measure of safety regardless of the additional safeguards that can be incorporated into a battery.

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What safeguards are built into Voyager?

At every level of development the decisions made by our scientists and engineers have been driven by safety and reliability.  We have chosen the best, most durable lithium-ion cells and other components, added custom, electronic sensors and safeguards, and encased them in a durable, waterproof, impact/vibration resistant housing.

Voyager's lithium-ion batteries are monitored by a custom-made, electronic safeguard called a battery management unit (BMU).  This component continuously monitors all critical functions and metrics and can safeguard the battery and its users if a metric is outside acceptable limits.

The BMU performs the following functions:

  • Monitors all internal stack cell voltages
  • Monitors all external battery terminal voltages
  • Monitors internal battery stack current flow and direction
  • Monitors battery cell temperature
  • Monitors the charge/discharge control FETs

If any of these metrics move outside acceptable parameters, the BMU will activate redundant processes that disconnect the battery stack from the external battery terminals.  This functionality ensures that damage or failure related to over-charge, over-discharge, short circuit, or over-heating is extremely unlikely.

In addition to these safeguards, Voyager allows users to confirm the battery’s state of charge, the proper functioning of the circuit control FETs, and the overall health of the battery during a pre-flight check routine.

Voyager durable, external shell protects the internal components from even the most austere environments.

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What type of testing has Voyager completed?

Our batteries have been extensively tested in multiple environments.

In our laboratory, we can simulate the demands of a turbine start and we designed Voyager to meet or exceed the performance specifications of most on-board, led-acid batteries.  Furthermore, we test critical components during assembly to ensure proper operation.

We have also conducted successful field-tests on an expanding list of popular, commercial helicopters.  The tests repeatedly indicate that Voyager outperforms led-acid starts, offering faster, cooler starts, even in rapid succession.

The US Army extensively tested our technology before certifying it with an Air Worthiness Release (AWR).  Subsequently, it has performed well in combat with the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.  The testing required to earn an Air Worthiness Release subjected our batteries to the following abbreviated list of stresses:

  • Capacity cycling in hot, cold, and ambient temperatures
  • Deep discharge recovery
  • Short circuit with and without the BMU
  • Over-charge with active BMU
  • Over-charge, discharge, and over-discharge without the BMU
  • Exposure to abnormal high temperature
  • Exposure to abnormal voltage spike
  • Exposure to crushing, rod puncture, gunfire penetration
  • Storage at high and low temperatures
  • Austere environments including rain, humidity, fungus, salt fog, blowing sand & dust, contaminating fluids, and drastic temperature change
  • Violent environments including explosive atmosphere, crash shocks, functional shocks, handling shocks, bench handling shocks, acceleration, and vibration
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