We’ve been covering the development of the Sun Flyer electric airplane (e-plane) for quite some time now, and we are happy to report that its successful maiden test flight has been completed at the Centennial Airport near Denver, Colorado.
Successful Sun Flyer 2 Test Flight
The successful test flight of the Sun Flyer 2 ushers in an era of small, fast, nimble, affordable two- and four-seat training airplanes and light one-flight aircraft. According to Charlie Johnson, Bye Aerospace’s president, on April 10, with blue skies and perfect conditions, “we had a fantastic first flight.”
He was further quoted on Flying Magazine as having said, “As with most first flights, we’re not trying to test any limits at this stage. … That will come in the weeks ahead.” However, the engineering and performance parameters that were measured during what Bye described as a “short and very successful flight” met or exceeded the flight test targets.”
So far, Bye Aerospace hasn’t settled yet on a power system but confirmed it would be soon revealed. However, the company did select LG Chem’s MJ1 lithium-ion battery cells for the Sun Flyer 2. The battery pack will push out 260 Wh/kg, enough for a 3.5-hour flight.
Owner and founder George Bye couldn’t resist poking the competition by saying that the Sun Flyer 2 had made significant improvements over its direct competition, particularly the Pipistrel Alpha Electro electric two-seat trainer. We’ve covered Pipistrel in several stories here and Bye rightfully points out that the Pipistrel only gives you an hour of flight with reserve.
Still, orders are coming in and Californian’s clean transportation program CALSTART took ownership of four Pipistrel Alpha Electro airplanes. But all of this isn’t bad news for the Sun Flyer 2, which sees four crucial electric charging stations installed nearby. The stations will start a national network of electric charging spots that will enable the future success of electric flight.
Electric Airplanes Keep On Pushing The Envelope
In a few short years, we have witnessed wheeled electric vehicles (EV) completely challenge and dominate their traditional gasoline competition in various ways. Then the challenged turned to water and air — electric sea vessels started to appear and electric aircraft as well. Pipistrel already announced a 1-hour flight electric aircraft, but the Sun Flyer 2’s 3.5 hours shows the inescapable battery efficiency progression.
“We are excited about the future and the potential the Sun Flyer family of aircraft has to revolutionize general aviation, providing improved affordability and accessibility,” Bye said. “Lower operating costs are key to solving the student pilot drop-out rate, which is curtailing the successful attainment of badly needed airline pilots. The Sun Flyer 2’s $3 hourly operating costs are 10 times lower than traditional piston-engine flight trainers, with no carbon emissions and significantly reduced noise.”
We hope to see the Sun Flyer 2 displayed over the country, flying from one point to another as a testament that electric airplanes work and are practical today.