GreenWing Brings Electric Fliers To Oshkosh

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Amid all the noise and smoke of the afternoon airshow at EAA AirVenture, an interlude featuring two eSpyder aircraft from GreenWing was notable for its silence. The single-seat aircraft, which resemble monowing ultralights, flew over show central, low and slow, executing gentle turns driven by battery-powered electric motors. The aircraft were recently certified in Germany as light sport aircraft, but the U.S. LSA rules don't allow for electric powerplants. GreenWing, based in California, is offering the eSpyders for sale as experimental amateur-built airplanes, at $40,000 for a quick-build kit. The eSpyder's battery can supply flight times up to one hour, "enough to go for a quiet, relaxing sunset flight after work, without bothering the neighbors," as LSA advocate Dan Johnson said, narrating the flight demo from the announcer's booth.

At a news conference on Thursday at Oshkosh, GreenWing spokesman Eric Bartsch said the availability of the eSpyder kit means "electric aviation is here -- this isn't theoretical anymore -- this is something I can buy." The GreenWing company, based in California, is a spinoff of Yuneec, the Chinese company that developed the airplane. Bartsch noted that "Yuneec has a lot of manufacturing capabilities" and already has started production on the eSpyder aircraft, which will be ready to ship by the end of this year. He added that the company hopes the U.S. light sport aircraft rules will evolve to allow electric powerplants within a year or so, so the eSpyders can be sold factory-built. The company also is ready to manufacture the e430, a two-seat electric-powered airplane that also would qualify as an LSA in the U.S. if the rules change to allow for electric powerplants.