The German government has given the nod to what appears to be the first certification of an all-electric airplane, the eSpyder. While the certification was completed in February of this year, the announcement was just recently made. The eSpyder is an ultralight design with a single-seat cockpit held up by a fuselage boom onto which the small electric motor and propeller are mounted right above the windshield.
The eSpyder was developed and will be produced by Yuneec International, based in Kunshan, China. Recently, a U.S.-based company called GreenWing International took over the marketing, sales and support for Yuneec’s electric airplanes. The eSpyder design is expected to enter production this year. No one knows how long it will take before the design will be accepted under ASTM standards, but in the meantime the eSpyder will be available in the U.S. as an amateur built kit.
GreenWing claims that the batteries that power the eSpyder can be fully charged in less than two hours, providing the capability of one hour of flight with a 30-minute reserve. “It should be possible to use solar cells on the roof of a hangar to charge the battery between flights such that the plane can be flown daily without requiring energy from the power grid,” said GreenWing’s CEO Tian Yu.
The Yuneec engine produces very little noise — 51 db according to GreenWing. “This airplane allows you to cruise effortlessly at 1,000 feet above the terrain and hear what is going on one the surface,” Yu said. The stall speed of the eSpyder is 24 knots and its landing roll is just a few hundred feet, the company claims. Pricing and availability of the eSpyder will be announced at AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, set to begin at the end of this month, where two eSpyders will be on display.
An even more compelling GreenWing project is the e430, a sleekly designed two-seat LSA that Yuneec has flown since 2009. The company is currently working on the final design and eventually DULV approval for the e430, which is projected to be able to fly for about 2.5 hours. While GreenWing is not brining an e430 prototype to Oshkosh this year, the company hopes to introduce the e430 to the LSA market as early as next year.
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