PC-Aero Extends Electric Aircraft Flight Time

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Although they're improving rapidly, the chief problem with electric aircraft remains endurance due to limitations on battery capacity and weight. At Aero Friedrichshafen last week, a German company called PC-Aero showed off the latest iteration of its approach to solve the endurance problem -- solar assisted flight. In this video, PC-Aero's Calin Gologan showed AVweb the company's second-generation electric airplane, the single-seat Electra Solar One. Because of its low drag, the airplane draws minimum power from its onboard batteries, but to supplement that, says Gologan, the wings and tail surfaces are covered in efficient photovoltaic cells that can provide up to 1.2 Kw/hr against a total requirement of 2.5 Kw for the airplane.

This, says Gologan, will extend the Solar One's range to as much as 600 miles. Gologan says this can be achieved with current battery and motor technology and that the aircraft will be certified as a European ultralight later in the year, with production to begin at a cost of about 90,000 Euros (about $125,000) next year. Operating costs, according to PC-Aero, are expect to be 35 Euro an hour or about $48 all in.