The Yuneec E430
Electric aircraft are very much at the Kitty Hawk/Wright Flyer stage of development and to give you an idea of how interesting this space is, the first commercially available electric aircraft is almost certainly going to be the The Yuneec E430 (pronounced “unique”). Yuneec is a mainland chinese manufacturer of electric remote controlled helicopters, essentially toys (albeit toys that can potentially decapitate a grown man), so a foray into commercial full scale aircraft production is a big step, significantly bigger than it would be for a company like Cessna or Beechcraft. Why is this?
Well I would hazard a guess that it is because the big manufacturers have looked at the electric aircraft space and decided that the technology is still to immature for the production of an electric aircraft to be a cost effective option. They might be right. But I don’t think so. The benefits of electric motor powered flight are very significant, you just ask any private plane owner how much he spends on engine maintenance and fuel and he or she will recount costs in the thousands of dollars per year. With an electric motor your engine maintenance costs drop to almost zero and your fuel costs drop to perhaps a hundred dollars a year. Suddenly private plane ownership opens up to a huge number of people who simply couldn’t afford it before. The drawbacks are the usual suspects, battery capacity and battery weight. These problems are becoming less and less significant every year (we are seeing a capacity increase of about 10% per year with litium ion battery technology) and so in the current decade we can expect huge increases in the viability of all electric aircraft.
The only thing I don’t understand about the Yuneec E430 is why they haven’t put solar cells on the wings. With the massive wing area the solar cells could actually achieve something. Oh well. Maybe on the E440.
Manufacturers Product Description-Electric flight, once seen as futuristic, has arrived and with E430’s flight times of between 1.5 and 3 hours (depending on configuration) electric flight now becomes a realistic power source for sport aviation.-Charging times of 3 hours for as little as $5 make electric a really low cost way to fly and with only 2 main moving parts in the motor (the bearings) the reliability and maintenance are like nothing seen before.-Yuneec International are proud to introduce the E430 the world’s first commercially produced ‘Electric Aircraft’. The E430 is a twin seat, single engine, LSA class aircraft designed to be simple to use, easy to fly and with virtually zero vibration, it’s very smooth.-Yuneec Aircraft