Aero Electric Aircraft Corp., the company George Bye created to build the solar-electric Sun Flyer airplane, has secured a temporary FAA registration and conducted ground tests in October, the company announced Nov. 15.
The company unveiled the prototype of the all-composite, two-seat trainer in May, and has since completed engineering reviews and inspections, followed by the first power-on check. The team will proceed with ground and taxi tests before making the first flight. Bye said in a news release that the company is “thrilled” to have reached this milestone, and company President Charlie Johnson (a former Cessna president), said the approach has been painstaking.
Aero Electric Aircraft announced the first reservations in May, and announced additional deposits during EAA AirVenture in July. The company aims to produce the first American-sponsored, all-electric aircraft certified by the FAA, and hopes to find a foothold in the flight training and general aviation markets. Pipistrel also hopes to bring a two-seat electric aircraft (sans solar charging) to California in the coming months.
Sun Flyer's solar cells are intended to augment external charging of the lithium ion batteries, and the company says the Sun Flyer can fly for three hours on a single charge. (The cost of that electricity was initially estimated at $1 per flight hour. In an August 2018 email, CEO George Bye said that based on current rates and a potential surcharge that some customers may have to pay for using rapid-charging stations, the company revised its estimate of electricity cost in a flight training environment to $3 per flight hour.)
Bye presented an update on the Sun Flyer Nov. 17 during the IDTechEx Show in Santa Clara, California.