Elektra One Solar Plane Takes Aviation Off the Grid

It’s official:  with its new Elektra One electric aircraft and “SunAirport” hangar, aviation company PC-Aero has taken recreational flying off the grid.

Billed as “one of the most efficient transportation devices ever conceived”, PC-Aero’s Elektra One employs advanced composite materials and battery technology to keep its dry weight to approx. 400 lbs, which allows the tiny single-seater to travel up to 310 miles in just under 3 hours, courtesy of a relatively small 13.5 kW electric motor.  As impressive as the Elektra One is, however, it’s the company’s SunAirport home-charging hangar – featuring a roof composed of efficient solar panels (below) capable charging the plane between flights without ever “plugging in” to coal-fired utility providers – that rounds out PC-Aero’s “holistic” approach to taking private flying off-grid.

PC-Aero’s ability to develop a holistic plan for energy management is seen as being critical for the widespread adoption of electric propulsion, and earned the company a prestigious Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP), designed to “recognize, inspire and incentivize the innovation that will drive aviation’s culture, economy and future”.

The innovative Elektra One is currently undergoing certification in Europe as a German Ultralight LTF-UL-class aircraft, and expects the Elektra One / SunAirport flight package to be available for retail sale by mid-2012.  At just $150,000 and a (claimed) operational cost comparable to that of a typical gas-fuelled car, I’m sure the PC-Aero assembly line will be a busy place next summer.

Expect to see more of PC-Aero at this September’s NASA/Google Green Flight Challenge, where the whisper-quiet Elektra One will compete with other “green” planes like the eGenius electric glider, the Diamond DA50 diesel, and the Siemens EStar for lots and lots of yummy prize money.

Until then, you can get to know some of the people behind PC-Aero and see many more photos of the Elektra One at its debut party over at European tech blog Gizmag.  Enjoy!

Source:  Gizmag;  Photos:  PC-Aero, via Gizmag.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.