The development of electric aircraft is moving at an ever-increasing rate worldwide: another company is embarking on the development of such a powered small passenger car, and EASA has certified the first ultralight type in Europe.
Bye Aerospace of Colorado is no longer completely unknown in the electric aircraft market, its two-person small aircraft under development, the eFlyer family, has already received orders for 298 units. According to an article by Flightglobal, CEO George Bye recently announced that his company is embarking on another development: the goal is to launch a fully electric aircraft capable of carrying six to nine people in the foreseeable future.
In his view, the demand for low-cost sustainable aircraft is constantly growing, and riding on this has begun the development of a new type, the details of which have not yet been revealed. The company manager stressed that the launch is still a matter of years, because they expect the expected significant development of battery technology.
This is because these units are currently the biggest disadvantage of any similar concept. In addition to their unsatisfactory capacity, they are large and heavy, and they carry the same load all the way, unlike traditional, depleting fuels. However, the operation of electrical machines is still cheaper.
For the time being, small aircraft with such propulsion may be suitable for hobby flying and education, and the technology is not mature enough for larger passenger carriers. Bye Aerospace’s current plans are to produce the first eFlyer 2, which will be exactly the same as the first ones to be released, after which certification can begin, followed by series production of the ordered machines with the licenses.
As we have reported several times, various companies in Europe are presenting their electric-powered concept designs and prototypes in a row, but certifying them is a long, costly process, an unfamiliar terrain for manufacturers and authorities as well.
Nevertheless, Pipistrel, which specializes in ultralight aircraft with Slovenian roots, has successfully fulfilled all the conditions: the company’s Velis Electro machine became the first certified electric type in Europe.
The propeller of the improved, battery-powered version of the Virus is powered by a 76-horsepower engine developed by Slovenian Emrax and can deliver 170 kilograms of payload at a speed of 170 kilometers per hour with a maximum flight time of 50 minutes. Fuel is “replaced” by an 11 kWh, 345-volt battery.
According to Pipistrel, the certification proves that the developments since 2007 have not been in vain, as they have managed to meet the highest safety standards tailored to traditional machines.
According to the release, the Slovenian aircraft manufacturer will already make thirty-one series copies this year, twelve of which will go to Alpin Air Planes in Switzerland. The company will install the planes at 10 airports in the country and power them with solar panels for up to 12,000 flight hours a year, effectively reducing emissions from aviation to zero.