The Sun Flyer, an electric airplane designed and built by Aero Electric Aircraft Corporation (AEAC), made its debut this week at the Centennial airport in Colorado. It features solar panels integrated into its wings, a lithium ion battery, and a 100 kW (135 horsepower) electric motor. Despite having a battery onboard, the electric airplane weighs only 1,654 lbs.
AEAC CEO George Bye told KUSA Channel 9 News the Sun Flyer is meant to be a training aircraft. He is awaiting FAA approval for the airplane. This week’s roll out was just a static presentation for the benefit of investors and the press. Once the FAA signs off on the craft’s airworthiness, it will be the first US made all electric airplane ever to take to the skies.
Bye says the major difference between the Sun Flyer and a traditional aircraft with an internal combustion engine is how quiet it is. “The aircraft radiates roughly 1/1000th the noise of conventional aircraft. The replacement of conventional aircraft with quiet electric aircraft should result in a more than 40-fold reduction in the number of community residents highly annoyed by noise,” he says.
But what is even more surprising is how little the Sun Flyer costs to operate. Bye estimates it can fly for about an hour on a dollar’s worth of electricity. That will help keep the cost of flying lessons down for people who want to learn how to fly. Electric vehicles in general also tend to cost far less to repair and maintain than their gasoline powered cousins.
AEAC says it has received a total of 65 deposits for its Sun Flyer airplane. According to the company website, “Aero Electric Aircraft Corporation (“AEAC”) was created to produce the two seat “Sun Flyer” and bring it to market. We intend to serve general aviation by providing a clean, renewable energy, solar-electric training aircraft. As a privately-held Nevada Corporation, the company is headquartered near Denver, Colorado and is working closely with its founding and contract partner, Bye Aerospace.”
Always on the lookout for the offbeat, the unusual, and the weird, I couldn’t help noticing that the reporter for the KUSA story is listed as Amelia Earhart. What are the odds, huh?