The two-seat electric airplane Sun Flyer announced that it added a couple of seats, and we can’t believe we missed it!
Electric Sun Flyer 4, from Two to Four Seats
Adding two seats on an internal combustion engine (ICE) airplane might get a line or two in an air industry magazine, but make that on an electric airplane and it becomes a milestone worthy of broad press. The Sun Flyer is now testing its wider passenger electric plane, as it goes from step 2 to step 4.
The Sun Flyer 2 was originally designed with two seats in mind and the Sun Flyer 4 is the next addition to the Sun Flyer family of aircraft. So far, the Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology is the first flight school to hold a deposit for a Sun Flyer 4 and has shown early enthusiasm.
The two-seat Sun Flyer, Sun Flyer 2, is the first FAA-certified all-electric trainer aircraft under FAR Part-23. The new four-seater, the Sun Flyer 4, will closely follow the certification of the two-seat version featuring some of the original Sun Flyer specs, a 46-inch cabin width, 38-foot wingspan, ballistic parachute recovery system and a gross weight of 2,700 lb, with a full 800 lb of payload for pilot and passengers.
According to George Bye, CEO of Sun Flyer: “Like Sun Flyer 2, Sun Flyer 4 will run completely on batteries. 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.”
Sun Flyer 4 Bookings & Test Flights
Spartan College claims to have 25 deposits for the production of the Sun Flyer 2 and it 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. To this day, the Sun Flyer has received 10 more deposits on top of the Spartan College.
Dr. Dan Peterson, President and CEO of Spartan College, was quoted as saying: “Providing our students the opportunity to train on a variety of airplane models is paramount to a diversified flight education. The addition of the four-seat airplane will enable us to take multiple students on cross-country flights during their training on these groundbreaking aircraft.”
The Sun Flyer is intended to be the first FAA-certified, US-sponsored, practical, all-electric airplane to serve the flight training and general aviation markets. It features a low operating cost, low aircraft unit cost, low noise, and the elimination of exhaust pollutants. Electric energy, or “fuel,” cost for Sun Flyer is multiples lower compared to the per-hour cost for a piston-engine.
The Sun Flyer Specs
In its two-seat configuration, the total operating cost per hour is $16, compared to $88.31/hour for a Cessna 172. It uses a 46″ cabin width with a 38′ wingspan and a 129 sq. ft. wing area. The Sun Flyer 2 reaches a 21.5 glide ratio with a 440 lb crew and passenger weight, and 1,900 lb gross weight.
It uses an 80 kW propulsion drivetrain spinning at 1,450 feet per minute (FPM) in a best rate of climb scenario, which gives it 55 to 120 knots under normal speed. This also gives it a 3-hour flight endurance.
Where the 4-seater innovates further is with a total operating cost per hour of $19.80, compared to $122/hour for a Cessna 182. It will use the same cabin and wingspan, but reduces the wing area to 120 sq. ft. and the glide ratio comes down to 18.7. The crew and passenger weight almost doubles to 800 lb, with a gross weight of 2,700 lb.
The propulsion system is bumped up to a 130 kW drivetrain with a lower 1,250 FPM best rate of climb. The speed improves to 55–130 knots under normal speeds and the plane can be flown for 4 hours.
Bye further added: “At $5 of electricity per flight hour and under $20 operating cost per flight hour, Sun Flyer 4 will run completely on batteries, resulting in operating costs that are five times lower than costs associated with similar combustion-engine aircraft such as a Cessna 182 or Cirrus SR-20. … The Sun Flyer family of aircraft use transformative electric technology that provides disruptive affordability.”
Sun Flyers Flies In The Face Of Noise Ordinances
Electric airplanes answer the ever increasing and stringent noise ordinances for secondary airports. Flights that need a high and steep approach could be allowed to descend in a more normal way without effective noise above residential areas.
The prototype Sun Flyer 2 was on static display at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. According to the company, it drew a lot of attention and interest from the crowd.
Who Is The Sun Flyer & The Aero Electric Aircraft Corp.?
It is continuing to develop its electric Sun Flyer family. Its aim is to serve the general aviation community as well as the aviation flight training market. The company is working closely with its founding and contract partner, Bye Aerospace.
Sun Flyer 4 & The State Of Electric Airplanes
There have been a lot of electric vehicles taking to the air this year. From Zunum to Lilium to aEro, these startup companies are fathering a lot of interest from airports and big airplane makers. We are happy to see the Sun Flyer join the competition of small electric airplanes and are looking forward to more good news from the company.