E-Flight Takes Center Stage At Aero

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Click here to see some of the airplanes on exhibit at Aero's e-flight display.

The first exhibit at the main entrance to Aero Friedrichshafen this year celebrates electric-powered flight, with a collection of aircraft that share the theme "ecological, electrical, and evolutionary." The aircraft on display include China's RX1E, which is on track to become the first electric-powered airplane in serial production. "The airplane was certified in February, and we expect the production certificate in July," Guiwen Kang, of the Liaoniing General Aviation Academy, told AVweb. "We plan to start production after that." He said the company already has 28 orders for the airplane, which has a flight duration of about one hour.

Next week, Kang said, the company will start the process to certify the airplane in Europe. Also next week, they will be shipping an airplane to the U.S. for EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, where they hope to fly it. Also on display at Aero is the two-seat eGenius electric-technology demonstrator, a project of the University of Stuttgart with funding from Airbus and other industry partners. The airplane first debuted at Aero in 2011, but it has undergone continuous development since then. Now in testing mode is a small hybrid engine that could be attached under a wing, said Ingmar Geiss, an aeronautical engineer affiliated with the project. The eGenius in its current configuration has a flight duration of 2.5 hours and a range of about 250 miles, Geiss said. Other electric aircraft on display include the Phoenix motor-glider, which was developed for the 2011 CAFE competition and Song, a lightweight single-seater that qualifies for the German equivalent of ultralight. Song, which is based on Randall Fishman's ElectraFlyer ULS, is built in Czechoslovakia and can be powered by either a gas or electric engine.