Electric airplanes are flying but far from market
Many companies will display electric-powered airplanes at Oshkosh this year, but a practical airplane you can purchase has proven to be a challenge.
The Experimental Aircraft Association has asked the FAA to allow light sport and ultralight aircraft to use electric propulsion, so there is a lot of interest.
Electric Aircraft’s ElectraFlyer airplane has flown several times with an 18-horsepower electric motor, and the company plans to build a 40-hp version.
Sonex Aircraft says it has a more powerful motor and a controller of its own design that feeds electricity from the lithium polymer battery to the motor. This is the key to making electric airplanes feasible, a Sonex spokesman said. The aircraft has not yet flown. In the video you will hear of an 800-cell battery, but Sonex officials say they now prefer a battery of less than 80 cells.
Pipistrel says it has a two-seat electric glider flying, which was made from its gas-powered Taurus model. However, electric-powered gliders are not entirely new. Lange Aviation’s Antares 20E is already on the market.
So where’s the hybrid airplane with both a gas engine and electric motor (currently too heavy for small aircraft)? Keep watching.
June 24, 2008