All-Electric Sun Flyer 2 Takes Flight

The Sun Flyer 2 took its first flight under clear skies out of Centennial Airport outside Denver. Bye Aerospace

The all-electric Bye Aerospace Sun Flyer 2 took its first flight on April 10 at the Centennial Airport (KAPA). With clear blue skies over Denver and perfect conditions "we had a fantastic first flight," said Bye Aerospace president Charlie Johnson.

“As with most first flights, we’re not trying to test any limits at this stage,” said founder and CEO of Bye Aerospace, George Bye. “That will come in the weeks ahead.” However, the engineering and performance parameters that were measured during what Bye described as a “short and very successful flight” met or exceeded the flight test targets.

A final selection for the electric motor to power the production model of the Sun Flyer 2 has not yet been selected, but Bye Aerospace said the power plant will soon be announced. The energy storage system has, however, been selected: the LG Chem MJ1 lithium-ion battery cells, which offer 260 Wh/kg of energy density. The battery will provide a 3.5-hour flight endurance for the Sun Flyer 2, Bye said, a significant improvement over Pipistrel's Alpha Electro electric two-seat trainer, which only has a one-hour endurance with reserve.

California-based clean transportation organization CALSTART recently took delivery of four Alpha Electro airplanes in Fresno, California, along with four electric stations that will be installed at the Reedley Municipal Airport (O32), William Robert Johnson Municipal Airport (M90), Fresno Chandler Executive Airport (KFCH) and Fresno Yosemite International Airport (KFAT). The installations provide the beginning of a network of electric charging stations that is critical to the future success of electric flight.

“Lower operating costs are key to solving the student pilot dropout rate, which is curtailing the successful attainment of badly needed airline pilots,” Bye said. “The Sun Flyer 2’s $3 hourly operating costs are ten times lower than traditional piston-engine flight trainers, with no carbon emissions and significantly reduced noise.”

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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