Two firms founded to rethink general aviation travel have signed on to purchase the first electric eight-seat twins from Bye Aerospace, airplanes that could roll off the factory floor as soon as 2024.
The Colorado company founded by CEO George Bye announced in April that the two-seat eFlyer 2 being tested for FAA certification and the four-seat version also in development will be followed by something more suited to business travel, the eFlyer 800. Energy stored in lithium sulfur batteries (a newer and more potent chemistry than the lithium polymer and lithium ion batteries in widespread use) is projected to convert to 500 nautical miles of range with reserve at a fraction of the operating cost of legacy turboprops.
“Jet It is about providing smart, cost-effective travel solutions, and people aim to remain on the leading edge of the innovations in how we experience travel,” said Jet It founder and CEO Glenn Gonzales, in the news release. “As an aviation company run by aviators, we believe electric propulsion is the next major innovation in air travel, and Bye Aerospace will be one of very few manufacturers able to certify an environmentally sustainable aircraft that meets the needs of our expanding customer base.”
Bye Aerospace said in April that the $6 million eFlyer 800 will be flyable for one-fifth the hourly cost of the legacy twin turboprops, such as the Beechcraft King Air 260, that it seeks to replace. While the range will be limited compared to the petroleum-fueled legacy aircraft that can cover greater distances, Bye noted that electric propulsion makes up some of the lost ground by eliminating the tradeoff between range and weight. Expected performance is comparable in other respects, with a 320-knot maximum cruise speed and a 35,000-foot ceiling. Bye Aerospace estimates that the eFlyer 800 will have a 500-nm range based on 45-minute IFR reserves and a 280-knot cruise speed.
These ambitious specifications are a leap forward from the aircraft expected to arrive first, designed for flight training, personal use, and air taxi service. The eFlyer 2 had prompted more than 700 orders by the time the company began building the conforming prototype for FAA certification testing early this year.
Bye Aerospace hopes to certify the eFlyer 800 in 2025, the company noted in the recent announcement. Its safety features will include an emergency autoland system, dual redundant motor windings in each motor, quad-redundant battery packs, and an airframe parachute.