Sun Flyer Flight Tests Near
Earlier this month, Centennial Airport in the Greater Denver region, became home for the very first 'proof-of-concept' Sun Flyer twin-seat, all-electric flight trainer. Based on the earlier German-engineered PC-Aero Elektra One single-seater, this new aircraft will be certified, not as an ultralight, but as a CFR Part 21-certified flight trainer designed to make flying affordable again.
Assembled by Arion Aircraft in Shelbyville, TN, developers of their own line of Lightning piston-powered general aviation sport aircraft, the Sun Flyer is entirely powered by electricity, offering quieter, emission free, relatively low-cost flying. Its 26kW electric motor has shrunk from the initial "watermelon size" to the size of a stack of pancakes, explains Aero Electric Aircraft Corp. CEO George Bye in his 2015 presentation at the Flying Aviation Expo (see video people). Additionally, the switch from riveted aluminum to carbon fiber for the wings, tail surfaces, and fuselage have cut the weight of the aircraft in half, while still allowing it to carry a nominal 450 lbs (204 kg) payload.
It will be some weeks yet before Sun Flyer can take to the air in its first test 'hop.' The proof-of-concept aircraft still needs to have its solar electric powerplant and electronic navigation and communication equipment installed. Once that's completed, taxi tests will commence.
One of the more recent trends in flying is the use of iPads, not only for navigation, but also for "glass cockpit" instrument display, replacing or supplementing older analog displays. In addition, Sun Flyer has partnered with Redbird Flight Simulations to include their Sidekick flight recording system which...
"...keeps track of motor parameters, as well as flight time, airplane position, attitude, and landings, and wirelessly transmits the data to the flight school or ground station where the operator can track it via Redbird’s customizable Sidekick software."
In related electric flight trainer news, China's Liaoning Ruixiang General Aviation Co Ltd. has completed low-temperature testing of its own two-seat, all-electric two-seat RX1E trainer.
Flying Aviation Expo: Aero Electric Aircraft Corp. CEO George Bye
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