By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
|Click for video of the Yuneec electric airplane's first flight|
The e-Spyder, a single-seat electric-powered ultralight built by Flightstar Sportplanes of South Woodstock, Conn., flew for the first time last weekend. Company president Tom Peghiny, the test pilot, said the aircraft was a pleasure to fly. "Without the bulk of a two-stroke engine out front, there's much less drag," he told EAA. "This little machine flies very well." Peghiny mounted a Yuneec electric motor, built in China, on the nose of a modified Spyder ultralight, with the controller attached to the side of the airframe.
Meanwhile, officials from Yuneec are in California this week test-flying their own e430 electric-powered two-seater. The company is working with the FAA to attain experimental exhibition certification in time for next week's EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh. Peghiny also plans to bring his e-Spyder to Oshkosh, and said he hopes to announce prices then for the kit. He told Wired.com the aircraft may be for sale by the end of the year, with a price tag under $25,000. Even with two 28-pound lithium-polymer battery packs, the aircraft still fits within the weight restrictions of Part 103. The 20-kilowatt motor produces about 27 hp and can fly for about 40 minutes on a full charge, and the batteries will last for about 250 hours of flying before they have to be replaced. The Spyder is sold as an easy-to-assemble kit. It's not the only ultralight to fly on electric power -- Randall Fishman built an electric-powered trike a couple of years ago, and others are likely out there or in the works -- we expect to see more at Oshkosh.