Accessories

June 2019 Issue

Electric Airplanes:Are We There Yet?

Closer, but no cigar. Although certification rules are finally in place (mostly), the economics of e-flight remain murky. Green might not be cheap.

If anyone in the nascent e-flight business was surprised by this development, they were polite enough not to say so. The real electric airplane market remains a village cottage industry and I learned at Aero in April that the village is very busy indeed. The overarching picture is this: The certification rules are in place, or soon will be, to certify electric aircraft, battery capacity is improving glacially and two companies-Bye Aerospace and Slovenia-based Pipistrel-are set to deliver airplanes in commercial volume. Actually, Pipistrel already has, with about 60 Alpha Electro trainers in the field around the world. But lacking regulatory imprimatur, these have been more technology demonstrators than practical, useful airplanes.

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