Forgive the last few weeks of relative silence as we gather a storm of news and press releases regarding the world of electric aviation. One of the big biggest air shows in the world, AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, just wrapped up. As with any major air shows, companies use that time to reveal plans and purchases.
Here’s What’s New For Urban Air Mobility (UAM)
Image courtesy Bye Aerospace
Bye Aerospace said it received 624 “customer commitments” for its electric eFlyer training aircraft, with no less than 170 deposits, 318 memoranda of understanding (MOUs), and 136 MOU options. That’s nothing to sneer at considering the industry is only at its infancy. It shows a strong desire to get the aircraft off the ground — yes, pun intended.
The new Bye Aerospace orders include a commitment for 60 eFlyer2 two-seat aircraft from Norway’s OSM Group and 100 eFlyer4 units from BlackBird air taxi.
George Bye, Bye Aero’s CEO, said the company demonstrated how its electric aircraft began flying with a 20% more powerful Rolls-Royce Siemens SB70 V10 motor, making speeds of up to 90 knots a possibility while consuming 35 kW of power for 450 lb of passenger payload for a 3-hour flight.
XTI Goes with GE’s Catalyst for TriFan’s Hybrid Platform
In many ways, the XTI Aircraft TriFan 600 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) hybrid-electric aircraft was what opened the new UAM frontier for me. It’s a light VTOL aircraft that can land almost anywhere and act as a conventional airplane but that veers towards 100% electrification eventually. And in order to get there, XTI Aircraft chose GE Aviation’s in-development Catalyst turboprop engine as its core energy propulsion system. GE announced the good news at the ongoing EAA AirVenture show.
All images courtesy XTI Aircraft
GE also slipped out some interesting information that shows it will continue to develop a hybrid and electric aviation platform.
And What About Ampaire?
Ampaire also announced a plan to convert hybrid-electric power to more existing aircraft, including the much-anticipated Cessna 208B Grand Caravan and Viking Twin Otter. This means anyone can potentially convert these airplanes. As we previously reported, Mokulele Airlines on Maui will begin passenger service late this year in Hawaii — with its electric-hybrid converted Cessna 337 Skymaster that it calls the EEL.
Images courtesy Ampaire
According to CEO Kevin Noertker, the engine conversions cut fuel consumption by around 70% to 90, will reduce maintenance by 20% to 50, and result in significantly quieter flight. Noertker said 50 EELs have been ordered, a backlog valued at $70 million. Ampaire is also talking about contracts with the U.S. Air Force and NASA, with investment from aircraft engine maker Continental.
Texas Aircraft Teaming With Siemens eAircraft
Image courtesy Texas Aircraft
Texas Aircraft is also teaming up with Siemens eAircraft for the flight testing of its electric Colt, which will begin soon.
Flying reports Texas Aircraft Manufacturing showed its converted and certified Colt S-LSA at the AirVenture show in Oshkosh. The company also announced working closely with Siemens eAircraft — now part of Rolls-Royce — to create a new electric light-sport aircraft. Choosing a Colt makes perfect sense. As founding partner Matheus Grande said, “The availability to offer a version of our new Colt LSA powered by a new-generation Siemens eAircraft electric motor will give both private owners and flight schools the option of having an airplane that’s not only fun to fly but will also be extremely environmentally friendly.”
The new Colt aircraft will be powered by a Siemens SP55D electric motor on par with a Rotax-powered aircraft. In addition, Siemens eAircraft will provide the system’s inverter and auxiliary control components. The Colt’s SP55D motor produces a maximum takeoff power with a two-minute limit of 72kW at 3,000 rpm.
VerdeAero Teams Up With Continental Aerospace at AirVenture
We couldn’t leave you without mentioning the aircraft engine maker Continental Aerospace Technologies announcing a partnership with VerdeGo Aero and its eVTOL powertrain at EAA AirVenture. Founded by Erik Lindbergh, he was joined by Embry-Riddle Eagle Flight Research Center director Pat Anderson and Eric Bartsch.
VerdeGo has been working on a 2 to 3 seat tiltwing eVTOL aircrat. Erik notes, “Revolutions in aircraft come from revolutions in propulsion. This is the most exciting time in aviation I’ve seen in my career.”
Images courtesy VerdeGo Aero
We’ll end this UAM catchup article with news of Opener donating a first-generation BlackFly personal ultralight aircraft to the EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.