Cessna has built over 43,000 of its 172 Skyhawks since introducing the airplane back in 1955 and, until now, all have burned aviation fuel (Avgas) to fly the friendly skies. That is set to change as the ol' air-dog will learn a new trick this year with its manufacturer announcing that it is teaming up with Bye Energy to produce an electric-powered proof of concept (POC) version of the venerable bird.
According to reports, the 4-seater could have as much as a four-hour flight time. If you are thinking that doesn't seem feasible given the energy density of today's batteries, you're probably right. Not mentioned in the press release is the fact this first flyer will actually be a plug-in hybrid outfitted with an auxiliary power unit running on jet fuel.
For its part, Bye Energy has been working on putting together the electric aero-drivetrain since 2008. Though its not known which specific components will go into this POC, video from earlier this year showed them discussing an approach that would use a UQM 125 motor as well as thin-film solar cells on top of the wings to increase range. Hit the jump to check out that footage as well as a news report about the announcement and the official press release.
[Source: Cessna / Bye Energy / Terri Griffith / AVweb]
Cessna and Bye Energy Developing Electric-Powered Proof-of-Concept Skyhawk
OSHKOSH, Wis., July 26, 2010 - Cessna Aircraft Company, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, today announced that it is collaborating with Bye Energy, Inc., an integrator of clean, alternative energy technologies for business and general aviation aircraft, to design and develop an electric propulsion system for a Cessna 172 proof-of-concept (POC) aircraft.
Cessna's Chairman, President and CEO Jack J. Pelton said, "As we look at the landscape of alternative fuels for general aviation aircraft, the electric power plant offers significant benefits, but there are significant challenges to get there. We believe Bye Energy has gotten off to a good start in understanding those challenges and how to overcome them."
George Bye, CEO of Bye Energy Inc., thanked Cessna for its collaboration. "We are honored to work with Cessna in accomplishing the proof of concept endeavor. Cessna's support of the electric and electric-hybrid program is vital to moving general aviation into the future," he said.
Representatives from Bye Energy will be at the Cessna exhibit during EAA's AirVenture on Thursday, July 29, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., for one-on-one interviews.
First flight of the electric-powered Cessna 172 Skyhawk POC is expected to take place by yearend.
Cessna has delivered more than 43,000 Cessna 172s, making it the most popular general aviation aircraft in history.
Cessna is the world's leading general aviation company, based on unit sales, with five major lines of business: Citation business jets, Caravan single-engine turboprops, Cessna single-engine piston aircraft, aftermarket services and lift solutions by CitationAir. In 2009, Cessna delivered 754 aircraft, including 289 Citation business jets, and reported revenues of about $3.3 billion. Since the company was originally established in 1927, more than 192,000 Cessna airplanes have been delivered around the world, including more than 6,000 Citations, making it the largest fleet of business jets in the world. More information about Cessna Aircraft Company is available at www.cessna.com.
Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell Helicopter, Cessna Aircraft Company, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Greenlee, and Textron Systems. More information is available at www.textron.com.
Formed in 2008, Bye Energy is developing an electric and electric-hybrid propulsion system for light general aviation aircraft, announcing "The Green Flight Project" (www.TheGreenFlightProject.aero) earlier this year. The company is headquartered on Centennial Airport in Englewood, Colo., and also has offices in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Albuquerque, N.M. For more information, go to www.ByeEnergy.com.
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