Electric planes have viable niche applications now

On July 23, 2017 – Aero Electric Aircraft Corp. (AEAC) announced plans for a four-place airplane, “Sun Flyer 4,” the next addition to the Sun Flyer family of aircraft. In addition, Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology is the first flight school to hold a deposit for a Sun Flyer 4.

The two-seat Sun Flyer, “Sun Flyer 2,” will be the first FAA-certified all-electric trainer aircraft under FAR Part-23. The new four-seat will closely follow the certification of the two-seat version. Features of the Sun Flyer 4 include a 46-inch cabin width, 38-foot wing span, ballistic parachute recovery system and a gross weight of 2,700 lbs., with a full 800 lbs. of payload for pilot and passengers.

“Like Sun Flyer 2, Sun Flyer 4 will run completely on batteries,” said George Bye, CEO. “As a result, the four-seat airplane will have operating costs five times lower than costs associated with similar combustion-engine aircraft. With four hours of flying time, the versatile Sun Flyer 4 will appeal to both flight schools and pilot-owners.”

* electric planes can have over five times lower operating costs versus combustion planes
* electric motor has less heat than a gasoline engine so you need less air cooling and thus can manage with smaller air inlets
* smaller motor allows improved aerodynamics (15% or more efficiency gains)
* during descent propeller becomes a windmill, running the motor as a generator to recharge the batteries. Typical flights can provide 13% more energy

Problem for bigger or faster electric planes

* If you double speed, you increase drag by a factor of four
* faster and heavier planes will need several years of improved battery technology

Hybrid planes will have wider applications

* hybrid-electric airplane solutions will work as four times as much energy during takeoff as when cruising. Extra burst of energy can come from electric power so you can could use a small internal-combustion engine running at optimal rpm to recharge the battery and sustain cruising speed

Spartan College, which holds 25 deposits for production Sun Flyer 2s, is the first flight school to hold a deposit for a Sun Flyer 4. Spartan will develop a complete training system for the Sun Flyer family of aircraft, including a course syllabus for airframe and powerplant (A&P) technicians to receive specialized electric maintenance training.

Bye Aerospace has worked with Panasonic and Dow Kokam; currently they use a battery pack composed of LG Chem’s 18650 lithium-ion batteries, so called because they’re 18 millimeters in diameter and 65 mm long, or a little larger than a standard AA battery. LG Chem’s cell has a record-breaking energy density of 260 watt-hours per kilogram, about 2.5 times as great as the batteries we had when we began working on electric aviation. Each cell also has a robust discharge capability, up to about 10 amperes. Our 330-kg battery pack easily allows normal flight, putting out a steady 18 to 25 kW and up to 80 kW during takeoff. The total energy storage capacity of the battery pack is 83 kWh.

The company also is working on StratoAirNet, a Solar-Electric UAV. It is a highly cost effective and efficient aircraft platform with reasonable payload and extreme endurance focused on medium and high altitude missions. A proof-of-concept 15 meter wing span aircraft is nearing completion.

StratoAirNet utilizes light-weight composite structure, clean aerodynamics, and solar electric propulsion systems.

Bye Aerospace provides design, research and engineering support for the Silent Falcon UAV being developed by Silent Falcon UAS Technologies. The Silent Falcon is a solar electric UAV utilizing stored electric power, thin film solar photovoltaic (PV), high efficiency 6 blade propulsion system and other technologies to enhance its very long endurance, quiet operations and zero emissions.

Bye Aerospace is partnered with XTI Aircraft Company to develop a hybrid-electric VTOL business aircraft, the “TriFan 600” (www.XTIAircraft.com). Advanced electric power for aircraft makes the hybrid-electric configuration compelling for the TriFan, bringing together into one extraordinary airplane, battery power, electric motors, and a light efficient turboshaft engine in a vertical takeoff and landing platform.

The six-seat TriFan 600 will have the speed, range and comfort of a light business jet and the ability to take off and land vertically, like a helicopter. It will travel at over 300 miles an hour, with a range of 1,200 miles. Using three ducted fans, the TriFan lifts off vertically and then its two wing fans rotate forward for a seamless transition to cruise speed. It will reach 29,000 feet in just ten minutes and cruise to the destination as a highly efficient business aircraft.