German-Certified Light Electric Plane To Visit Osh

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GreenWing International Monday announced that German certification of its single-seat eSpyder may mark the aircraft as the first electric airplane to be certified by a national authority, and the company expects to bring details and pricing information to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2013. The eSpyder, which resembles a more conventional ultralight with tube and fabric construction, will be offered as a complete aircraft in countries that recognize the DULV certification applied by Germany (the U.S. does not). In this country, GreenWing plans to release an Experimental Amateur Built kit and hopes to bring a Light Sport version of the eSpyder to market pending the creation of regulations for electric aircraft. GreenWing says the eSpyder has regularly achieved one-hour flight times during testing, and can be fully charged in 90 minutes following a shorter 45-minute flight. GreenWing is a new company, but the products it sells are not new -- and neither is the German certification.

The eSpyder is a former product of Yuneec International, a Chinese company that first exhibited its electric planes at AirVenture in 2009. In 2011, Yuneec suffered a crash when the tail separated from the electric E1000 aircraft that was being developed for NASA's CAFE Green Flight Challenge. The crash killed aeronautical engineer Martin Wezel, who worked as a technical adviser for Yuneec. While German DULV certification of the eSpyder was achieved in February, the company did not move forward until June. It was then that GreenWing International announced it would produce and sell two of Yuneec's designs -- the eSpyder and the two-seat e430 (which more closely resembles a traditional light aircraft). The eSpyder is expected to fly daily in the ultralight area at AirVenture. It spans just over 19 feet and weighs 262 pounds, empty (without batteries), and 402 pounds with its lithium ion battery pack on board. It cruises at 37 mph and achieves a climb rate of 380 fpm. The aircraft's motor (32 hp), power controller, batteries and charger are all Yuneec-designed. The company says that a full charge, which amounts to 13 KWh and as much as a one-hour flight, takes two hours.