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.