Monday, July 6, 2009

Watt’s Up!

Getting ready for Oshkosh, and my first in-person look at an exciting new electric airplane which you'll be hearing a lot more about in the months ahead.
The Yuneec International E430 electric-powered two seater is in Phase 2 test flight mode.
The bird is fitted with a 54 hp electric motor that weighs only 37.5 lbs., uses six lipo (lithium polymer) batteries and is capable of 1.5 to 2 hours of flight.
And that’s with a 400 pound payload! A 10-battery configuration should bring duration to 2.5 hours. The sleek highwinger sports a 45-foot wingspan. Could that mean motorglider cred too? It gives the LSA a 25:1 glide ratio. Handling in strong winds could be a challenge with that wing and V-tail, but we'll have to wait and see.
Should motorgliding be enabled in future, perhaps with a folding prop, restarts would be a breeze. There are only two moving parts in the engine - the bearings! - just a flick of the switch and the prop is spinning again.
And think about charging time - three hours - and energy cost: around $5. Wow!
Check out this video. It wouldn't open in Firefox, but Internet Explorer worked.
Sure, it’s early yet to get too amped up about this (pardon the pun). But we'll be watching to see how this Chinese beauty and other electrics like the ElectraFlyer C and Waiex play out in the scheme of things.
Plans are to certify the E340 first as an experimental homebuilt, but commercial production is the ultimate goal.
Meanwhile, check out these flight test runs: durations of 15 minutes, max height = 975ft, take off in 265 feet at 40 mph, climb rate: 1320 fpm, cruise speed: 55 mph, top speed level flight: 93 mph. Are we dreaming electric yet, chilluns?
- photos courtesy Yuneec International

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