George Bye, the founder of a company called Bye Aerospace who proposed an electric-powered Skyhawk a few years ago, is shifting his focus to a two-seat trainer called the Sun Flyer. Bye and his business partner Charlie Johnson have formed a company called Aero Electric Aircraft Corp. to build an electric LSA in Colorado based on the pioneering work of Germany’s PC-Aero, which has been developing a small airplane known as the Elektra One powered by lithium batteries and solar cells.
Bye and Johnson plan to bring a prototype of the Sun Flyer to the Oshkosh airshow in July with the all-electric propulsion system they hope to introduce in the production version. The pair, however, face one big hurdle in their quest to crack the market for electric training aircraft: the FAA currently prohibits electric airplanes operating in the United States from carrying passengers.
The agency says it’s likely only a temporary measure as technical details are worked out to ensure such airplanes are safe. But for now the restriction means that even if Bye’s new company had an airplane to sell, it would be prohibited from demonstrating its capabilities to customers, and customers likewise would be prevented from training flight students.
Another potential barrier to the Sun Flyer’s broad adoption could be its price, which is projected to be close to $200,000.
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