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XPONENTIAL Innovation Preview -- www.allthingsunmanned.com

Fri, Jul 31, 2009

Unique Is As Yuneec Does

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.

File Photo

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

File Photo

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.

FMI: www.yuneec.com

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