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Electric airplanes are flying but far from marketElectric 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.

Alton Marsh

Alton K. Marsh

Freelance journalist
Alton K. Marsh is a former senior editor of AOPA Pilot and is now a freelance journalist specializing in aviation topics.

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