Practical Electric Airplane Unveiled At AirVenture Today
By Gene Yarbrough
The Yuneec E430 light
sport aircraft was unveiled by Clive Coote, Yuneec’s director
of international sales, in Aeroshell Square at AirVenture 2009
Tuesday. Founded two and a half years ago and based in Shanghai,
China, Coote said the Yuneec company started as a supplier of
electric motors, controllers and battery packs to flyers of
electric powered R/C models. The company enjoyed great success as
R/C modeler’s transitioned from fuel burning model engines to
electric powered model aircraft, and Coote said that the experience
gained in the electric model field was critical to development of
the full scale products Yuneec offers currently.
Yuneec began with a concept for an electric motorglider
ultralight and produced two aircraft to use as test beds for
technology development. The aircraft are unmanned due to Chinese
regulations regarding aircraft and are flown by radio control. The
two initial concept aircraft are still flying as today.
Tien Yu, the company's founder (also where the name is derived
from), was approached at the Friedrichshaufen airshow by EAA
requesting the company design and produce an all electric aircraft
according to Coote. Tien took up the mantle and has had 20
engineers working feverishly over the last 3 month to bring the
aircraft to Oshkosh.
The aircraft, finished only days ago, was test flown for 30
minutes in China, disassembled and shipped to Camarillo, California
where it flew off the required 20 hrs to receive a Certificate of
Airworthiness. After certification the aircraft was once again
dismantled and shipped to Oshkosh for display. The aircraft is
scheduled to fly at Oshkosh later in the week. Coote said it will
be flown as much as possible.
Powered by a 40kw/54hp electric motor by manufactured by Yuneec
the aircraft has a 1.5-2 hr range on 3 packs of
lithium-polymer (Li-Po) batteries. The endurance increases to about
3 hours on 5 packs. Recharge takes up to 3 hrs and cost an
estimated $2.50 in electricity. Max takeoff weight is 1050 lbs
Priced at $89,000 the E430 is set to be a contender in the LSA
market. Low entry cost combined with practically no fuel
(electricity) costs make the Yuneec product very a attractive
option when compared to other gasoline powered options. Coote
reported that the motor has only two moving parts, bearings, and
that maintenance costs over the life of the motor are nearly
nothing. Coote stated that after battery pack replacement is
considered the average operating costs for the E430 are about $15
per hour. The Yuneec electric powerplant is quiet, vibration free,
and does not suffer from performance decrease with altitude.
Yuneec is currently finishing construction on a 260,000 sq ft
manufacturing facility in Shanghai and expects first deliveries of
production aircraft to begin in late 2010 or early 2011.