Aero Electric announces four-seater version of its electric trainer aircraft
Aero Electric Aircraft Corp. (AEAC) has announced plans for a new version of its Sun Flyer electric aircraft. The new model, Sun Flyer 4, is an update to the Sun Flyer 2 which doubles seating capacity (unsurprisingly from 2 to 4).
First announced in May 2016, the aircraft will be the first FAA-certified all-electric trainer aircraft, and is aimed at the flight training and general aviation markets.
According to the company, the new four-seater will closely follow the certification of the two-seat version (although when the FAA will sign off is not yet known).
The Sun Flyer 4 boasts a 38-foot wing span, 46-inch cabin width, a gross weight of 2,700 lbs (1,225 kg), and an 800-lb (360kg) payload capacity for pilot and passengers.
The 2-seat model featured a 100-kW motor, although this looks to have been increased in the 4-seater version, which has access to at least 130 kW of propulsion according to specifications listed by AEAC. This should offer a 1,250 fpm best rate of climb, and speeds of up to 120 Knots.
According to statements made in 2016, each model will cost around US$200,000, but will offer significant savings on conventional avgas-fuelled aircraft.
“Like Sun Flyer 2, Sun Flyer 4 will run completely on batteries,” said AEAC CEO George Bye in a statement accompanying news of the 4-seat model. “As a result, the four-seat airplane will have operating costs five times lower than costs associated with similar combustion-engine aircraft. With four hours of flying time, the versatile Sun Flyer 4 will appeal to both flight schools and pilot-owners.”
The battery will reportedly offer four hours of flight time, although crucially actual capacity is not listed in the aircrafts specifications. Reports note that up to five battery packs can be used, presumably opening up the potential for swapping, as used in Siemens’ recent test flights.
An AV Web interview from 2016 explains more about the system:
Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology is the first flight school to hold a deposit for a Sun Flyer 4, as well as 25 deposits for production Sun Flyer 2s. Spartan will develop a complete training system for the Sun Flyer family of aircraft, including a course syllabus for airframe and powerplant (A&P) technicians to receive specialised electric maintenance training.
Although a working prototype is already in testing, it seems as though production models may be some time away yet. However, the right expertise is clearly on hand to push the project forward. CEO Bye’s other company, Bye Aerospace, is also partnered with XTI – the company developing the TriFan 600 hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft.