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back to article Electric plane takes to the skies

Chinese model aircraft maker Yuneec has unveiled what may soon become the world’s first commercially available electric aircraft. Can't see the video? Download Flash Player from Adobe.com The E430 has a 13.8m wingspan and is powered by a 40kw (54bhp) electric motor. Its maker stated that the plane has a flight time of roughly …

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FAIL

Please perform your research before publishing

The first electric aircraft to be commercially available was the Antares 20E.

First flight was in the summer of 2003.

See http://lange-aviation.com/htm/english/products/antares_20e/antares_20E.html for further details.

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1000ft?

Sounds like an aeroplane that doesn't actually do very well at flying, if 1000ft is the best it can manage... :)

Still, 2 or 3 hours endurance is pretty impressive.

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Suck on that, Tesla

How come the Tesla sports car costs $80000 when the chinese can make a plane for $89,000?

This plane is very comparable to the Tesla roadster (as long as you have a runway nearby, I suppose) yet looks like it's only $10000 more expensive. That sounds like a bargain!

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@Holtsmark

Fair point but to my best knowledge Lange Aviation have only built 50 of its electric gliders to order in the past 6 years. That's not really "commercially available" in the same way a Cessna 400 is, for example. I've no doubt over companies would build you an electric plane of one type or another to order, but I'm unaware of can you can buy 'over the counter' as you would a regular light aircraft.

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Not good at flying?

Surely anything that gets off the ground and stays there is actually pretty good at flying?

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b 3
Go

FANTASTIC!!!

love it, progress, development..

mankind moves FORWARDS..

the oil pigs are holding us back..

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Obvious

Why not cover the top surface of the wings with photovoltaic cells, surely that would improve the endurance?

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Anonymous Coward

Electric plane

It's still as noisy as f**k though

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Re: Not good at flying?

No,it is just good at missing the ground.

Just my electric thumb

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WTF?

Noisy??

Sorry Anon but you can't have been around many light aircraft if you think the one in that video is noisy, it's as quiet a church mouse in comparison. In fact unless you were standing within 30ft, or as close as the cameraman in that video I doubt you'd even hear it, at normal altitude it would be inaudible.

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Altitude

I suspect the 300m is meant to be a rate of climb of 300m per minute, just is just shy of 1000ft per minute which is a very respectable rate of climb for an aircraft of its class. A 1000ft ceiling wouldn't be able to get any sort of certification as it wouldn't be able to keep to minimas above built up areas, etc.

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Fairly Limited Capacity

On the Yuneec website we can see some figures showing a fairly limited capacity.

Max Takeoff Weight - 946 lbs

Smaller 6 pack battery - 159 lbs

Empty Weight (w/o battery) - 392 lbs

Since it's a two seater, calculating out the max average weight of each person with no cargo at all it comes to a mere 198 lbs.

If it has the 10 pack battery instead of 6 pack that drops to 145 lbs /person. Granted it's a niche product but they should've never put a 2nd seat in with so little margin, IMO, and I haven't even factored for the weight of a parachute or two, flotation device, etc, and a few pints of ale onboard.

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Coat

@Al Taylor

All aircraft are built to an order.

Any manufacturer that builds aircraft in the hope that it will be sold has serious problems.

The article says "the world’s first commercially available electric aircraft.". The Antares 20E fulfilled this description 6 years ago. Whether the aircraft mentioned in the article will be built in the numbers of the Antares still remains to be seen. There is a vast gap between a flying prototype and a press release and a series production aircraft.

Mine's the one with a 11 kWh battery in the pocket.

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it was a FIRST test flight !

of course the ceiling isn't 300m ..

presuming power for 1 hour max climb from sea level .. and a conservsative climb rate averaging 200ft / min, that equals 12,000ft .. enough that the pilot would be more limited by his/her susceptablility to altitude sickness !

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Exciting

This is very exciting - especially for the price - leccy tech is the furture.

I am surprised though, give the high RPM of electric motors they didn't design it as an electric ducted fan, the shrouds would have significantly reduced tips losses.

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Boffin

Re: Noisy??

At normal altitude it would be audible, just as completely unpowered gliders are. The airframe makes its own noise, and sounds like a buzz.

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@James Hughes 1

"Surely anything that gets off the ground and stays there is actually pretty good at flying?"

I use a stricter definition of 'good at flying' which also requires landing, and still being able to take off at least one more time afterward. Looks like this little machine does that OK too though, and while 2hrs isn't a very long flight, 3hrs on the bigger battery sounds more respectable, and that price tag is incredible. I mean seriously, less than 60 grand? Wow!

Give these another decade (better batteries, photovoltaic cells on the wings maybe) and they'll be awesome.

As usual with electric vehicles though I can't help but think the same thing with a 600cc petrol engine would be even better, and probably cheaper too.

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Alert

Why is the ground so close?

Love this plane! I would be a little worried about flying in anything made in China though, being a cheapskate I've used lots of Chinese equipment and the tradeoff for price is reliability. Not serious when a power tool fails, but........

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