Last week it was the SkySpark project flying fast on batteries, this week we heard that the first electric-powered airplane has flown in China, and on Wednesday Bye Energy announced that it has received a grant from the Wolf Aviation Fund to research electric motors for small GA aircraft. It's getting easier to believe the age of gasoline is on its last legs -- and while that may not be the case just yet, we do expect to see a lot of new emissions-free technology on display at EAA AirVenture next month. One of those displays will be the new airplane from China, the Yuneec International E430, which flew for the first time on June 12. It has since flown at least two more times, and is now being shipped to the U.S. so it can be ready to fly at Oshkosh.
Test pilot Shun Xun said the E430 has plenty of power and the ride is exceptionally quiet and smooth. Takeoff speed was 40 mph and top flight speed was about 93 mph. The Yuneec company hopes to certify the E430 as an experimental aircraft for sale in the U.S. market, according to EAA. It's a two-seat design with a long wing, a V-tail and all-composite construction. Click here for a video of the airplane in flight. George Bye, CEO of Bye Energy, said the Wolf grant is a critical first step in the company's electric power conversion project. The company is collaboratively designing and developing energy storage devices and battery management systems with Porous Power Technologies.