It isn’t the first electric airplane we’ve seen, nor is it the fastest. It’s not even the first one to be shown at the annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. What makes the Yuneec E430 unique is that it may be the first fully-enclosed battery-powered aircraft to actually go into commercial production. That’s right, the Chinese model aircraft power-pack supplier is planning on beating Elon Musk to the punch and bringing its purpose-built two-seat light-sport aircraft (LSA) to the market. First though, it will make an appearance at the 2009 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh before traveling to California to for FAA certification testing.
The E430 has a wingspan of 45.2 ft (13.8 m) and uses a 54 hp (40 kw) brushless motor to carry it aloft where it can stay for up to 3 hours, depending on the battery configuration. During its first test flights earlier this month, it reached a top speed of 93 mph (150 km/h). Besides the obvious environmental advantages, the lack of noise and vibration, low fuel and maintenance cost are thought to be key selling points to electric flight. Hit the jump for video of test pilot Sun Xun stretching the wings of the Yuneec E430 for the first time.
Gallery: Yuneec E430