China, First to Commercialize Electric Airplane

Yesterday, we reported that Toyota will start sales of the first mass produced fuel cell car next month, and today we learned that China is about to begin mass production of an electric airplane.

If RX1E succeeds commercially, China will be the technology leader in the field. The first manned electric flight was back in 1973, but until now these aircraft haven’t made it past the demonstration phase.

The two-seater, light-duty aircraft runs on electric motors and can be powered by fuel-cells, solar, ultracapacitors, power beaming or batteries. It can fly for 90 minutes on fully charged batteries, and charging the 10 kilowatt-hour batteries takes only 40 minutes at a cost of $0.80. 

Aviation Electric China

Airplanes of this size are commonly used by police, for flight training, mapping surveys, and just for fun by flying aficionados.

Liaoning General Aviation Academy, which designed and aircraft, hopes to sell 100 within three years, and plans to build a dedicated manufacturing plant that can make 100 a year in Shenyang. It will sell for $163,000, lithium batteries included.

Electric airplanes have lots of advantages – easy maintenance, low operating costs, high safety levels and obvious environmental attributes. 

In September, the first emissions reduction program in the US aviation industry took off, starting with airports.

Read our article, Buzzword is Electric For Future of Aviation.

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Comments on “China, First to Commercialize Electric Airplane”

  1. AviatorX

    China’s certification program is much more innovation-friendly than the USA. China will now overtake the U.S. in aviation just as Japan eclipsed us in automotive technology. Sad state of affairs.

  2. Michael

    The Pipistrel Taurus Electro is available since a while:
    The Chinese CAAC is certainly NOT more innovative than the FAA (which is not very innovative…)
    If China overtakes the US, it will be because of the potentially huge market, not because of innovation, at least for the foreseable future.
    Ed: we get the Governement we deserve…

  3. Jim

    Your information is embarassingly wrong. China is not the first plane to offer a “commercial” electric airplane. Pipistrel has done it: twice. Most recently with a two-seat, all-electric trainer, the WATTSup, that is in final flight test and will begin delivery this next year (2015) There are also several electric aircraft in the U.S. and Europe, from kits to production single-seat and two-seat electric aircraft. There are also several all-electric motorgliders and ultralight motorgliders for sale in the U.S. and Europe. Please do your homework before you broadcast ignorance to the world.

  4. Rona Fried

    Jim, this isn’t the first electric plane to be sold, it is the first to go into mass commercial production. Please don’t broadcast your ignorance before checking first.

  5. Steve

    Did anyone notice the similarity between the airframe design of this Chinese plane and the Pipestrel? I just cannot imagine that the Chinese, known everywhere for their high standard of commercial ethics, could have copied the design!


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