Bye Aerospace Lays Out Its Aggressive Aircraft Development Agenda


George Bye of Bye Aerospace delivered an update at EAA AirVenture 2021 on the company’s three ongoing eFlyer electric aircraft projects: the two-place eFlyer 2, four-place eFlyer 4 and the very ambitious eight-seat eFlyer 800 twin.

The eFlyer 2 has been flying for four years and has gone through multiple motor, battery and software iterations, Bye said. His goal is certification to FAR Part 23 normal category status, which would make it the first electric aircraft to be so certified.

Target price is $489,000, and the eFlyer 2 will be “disruptively beneficial” to the flight training market at a time when aviation is facing a serious pilot shortage, Bye said. He cited the prospect of flying for one-tenth the energy cost and one-fifth the overall operating cost of a gasoline-powered trainer. Production aircraft serial number 1 is now under construction (with a longer wing, payload upgrade and additional battery packs), he said, and Bye is targeting late 2022 or early 2023 for certification of the eFlyer 2.

With its four-seat 48-inch-wide cabin, the eFlyer 4, targeted with a $627,000 base price, is characterized as comparable to a Cirrus SR22 in mission, but immune to the effects of density altitude, among other liabilities. He said the eFlyer 4’s 200-kilowatt electric motor should yield 200 knots at 75 percent power, and because it is not an internal combustion engine, power at 17,000 feet is the same as at sea level. He said the electric power gives the eFlyer 4 “the benefits of a supercharger.” Bye is counting on the advantage of “universally available” electric power in remote regions such as Indonesia, where there is great demand for pilots, but where avgas is the equivalent of $20 per gallon, if it is available at all.

With an expected 860-pound payload (and there is no fuel-payload exchange with electric power), Bye said the eFlyer 4 is a game-changer in the air taxi and advanced training markets.

Bye also said that, as a derivative of the eFlyer 2, the 4 has the same electric drivetrain propulsion system (from Safran), the same aerodynamics and many of the same certification parameters, paving the way for certification, which he says is scheduled for late 2023 or early 2024.

Launched just two months ago in April, the highly ambitious $5.3 million (base price) eFlyer 800 is an order of magnitude more complex a project. With eight seats and a 1,540-pound payload, the pressurized, twin-motor all-electric design is targeting the King Air market with 340-knot cruise speed and a 35,000-foot service ceiling. Bye cited fleet orders from a pair of sources, and a third from leasing firm Skye Aviation. Founder Rod Zastrow was at the press conference, and he’s bullish on prospects for placing all eFlyer models, but especially the 800. Deposit terms are $25,000 each for the 800 ($10,000 for an eFlyer 4 and $5,000 for an eFlyer 2), and Zastrow says he considers the deposits “non-refundable,” though he clarified, “These are not the final purchase agreements.”

Bye expects certification of the eFlyer 800 in late 2025 or early 2026—a tall order, indeed, for such an ambitious developmental challenge. He said he’s counting on partner Safran for delivering the pressurization and other cabin-environment systems required for the mission he envisions for the eFlyer 800.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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    • Flying an actual piloted prototype for four years seems to be a step or two beyond the vapor phase . . .

  1. The commercially practical electric airplane viability cloud definitely shows some solidarity if you consider it centered around the training market, but it’s also true that the cloud gets pretty wispy when you move outward toward the edges. A pure battery powered King Air killer?

  2. Electric aircraft developers always cite maintenance and fuel savings as incentives to switch to electric trainers. But, at $489,000, the E-2 had better have near-zero maintenance and fuel costs to be competitive to even a new Cessna 172 that is priced about the same amount. The 172 offers capabilities far beyond those of the limited trainer – something that the flight school can offer as their students advance to higher level licenses. And, saying that a $627,000 E-4 is competitive with a Cirrus SR20 is also a stretch. Considering that projected prices almost always balloon as the plane nears certification, I would not be surprised if the E-2 comes in closer to a half-million as it rolls out. Just ask Icon how that works. I consider George Bye as one of the more serious and competent electric airplane developers, and have no big issues with the E-2 and E-4 designs. But, like most others in the segment, he is pushing a large boulder up the economic hill to bring the planes to market at a price people are willing to pay.

  3. I don’t want to seem difficult, but honestly this is just another in what appears to be an unending series of announcements of things that are very unlikely to actually occur by companies that most likely won’t exist in 10 years. As such, covering these sorts of things in this stage of their possible development is at best a waste of time for all concerned and at worst, assistance to the snake oil salesmen in their – at this point highly questionable endevours. Yes it can be done and someone will, but unless and until they’ve got production prototypes and production facility lined up it’s nothing more than a curiosity – and electric aviation these days isn’t even that. Why did I even read this article if I feel this way? Easy; I wanted to see how full of it THIS one is. Don’t help these guys by validating them. Make them earn it.

  4. It’s almost impossible for it to work.

    A Tesla battery pack alone weighs about 1,000 pounds and has the energy of 2-3 gallons of fuel.

    Even if the electric motor is 5 times more efficient that’s 15 gallons max.

    That would keep a 172 in the air about 90 minutes or an hour with VFR reserves.

    So basically useless.

    Plus the useful load of a 172 is about 900 to 1,000 pounds (going on memory here) so useful load as configured would be about zero.

    So basically useless.

  5. I don’t give a rats arse about global warming but I’d also love simpler safer more reliable less expensive quieter less maintenance intensive cheaper to operate and easier to fly aircraft just like everyone else here. I love internal combustion but if something truly better came out I’d embrace it.

    Sadly our wishes will not make this a reality but they will make hucksters rich.

  6. It’s pleasing to see people ramming these things into being – those who can stick it out will be in great positions when the energy storage/in-situ production catches up. And it will. It seems like only the realistic accounting for emissions could make electric aircraft financially viable right now and that doesn’t help the physics of the deal one iota. Nor would it help the mental health of those who can’t cope with the mere concept. Maybe the Alpha trainer is an exception in a solid solar charging and battery swap system.

  7. Future electric airplane costs are being compared to present cumbustion airplanes price tags as if we had an electric equal replacement for a 172 at nearly a half a million dollars as a giant leap forward. As if to say, the reason 4 place airplanes don’t sell is because they have a piston pounder on the nose vs an electric hummer. No, the market for new airplane sales have continually contracted because buying a certified airplane, trainer or flivver, no matter how it is powered is way, waaaay too expensive for the average citizen or flight schools.

    At the end of the day Bye wants to make money. And the bottom line always determines the outcome. It will determine his future as well.

    So far, the electric market has gained the largest share of investment far outsriping American investment interests in present, traditional aircraft development. This leaves the rest of the present aviation market available to the overseas investor who has zero or little general aviation infrastructure unlike the US. So far, the Chinese has been the only ones who will invest in piston pounders who have an established track record of reliability, some refinement, decent load carrying ability, and longevity. And they are very expensive to buy new. So expensive, that good airplanes only sell by the hundreds not thousands.

    This will be the bane of electric powered replacements. Too expensive to provide the numbers needed to mature the breed to what a new albeit very expensive fossil fuel burner has evolved to.

    As long as Bye can use OPM, he will give it a go. And I get to watch the development of airplanes that costs $500,000 to north of a million that cannot perform even close to my 68 year old Bonanza burning unleaded autofuel that might be worth a reasonably affordable $40K. And my fossil fuel burning tail pipe gases contributes to air pollution less than the pollution caused by a consuming a single Quarter Pounder with cheese. So much for progress.

  8. If I read that correctly, the eFlier 4’s payload is 860#, and Mr Bye said it will be a game changer in the air taxi market. Fully-clothed and stepping out the door, I’m at 238#, and not greatly overweight ( maybe could shed a few pounds!) but have a large frame. And then I look around at the local retailer – I now appear to be small. Mr Bye appears to be a small-framed person, but needs to realize that many air taxi folks are quite the opposite – overweight due to less physical jobs. Four of me is 952#, way over the payload capacity, and that does not include briefcases, apparel bags, or birthday gifts for the grandkids. Concept is one thing, practicality is another. As others have speculated, it will come, but not terribly newsworthy until it does.

  9. In the past, I’ve taken the time to attend Mr. Bye’s forums … but came to the conclusion early that he’s starting to believe his own “Wild Blue Yonder Bravo Sierra.” This was before all of the recent outlandish similar claims by others we here have been moaning about to Avweb. THIS year, I skipped it because he’s just NOT being realistic. All of us here are now “on” to these people. Just because he’s flying ONE eFlyer 2 does not a production line make. Just the other day, I read where RV’s are selling at the rate of 85 per week and Dick VanGrunsven has hired more employees totaling 119 now. When Bye achieves THAT … we’ll believe him. Until then, he’s a snake oil salesman using OPM as others have said.

    I’ve owned MY C172M for 36 years and would LOVE to have a new G1000 equipped like machine. But at $400K plus taxes, my mission won’t allow it and my finances would barely allow it, either … unless I gave up eating. If Bye thinks I’d pay him nearly $100K more for a trainer or nearly a quarter million more for an electric equivalent — assuming he pulls it off — he’s out of his mind. If I could buy a new 172 for — say — $250K — I might think about it. Anything higher and it ain’t happening. When Icon was hawking their I5 out of their slick black tent for around $150K, there was interest. When the price went up dramatically, the tent went away and so did their business.

    George is well intentioned, I’m sure. He’s just not being realistic. I think there needs to be a branch of psychology to give these people some therapy.