Elec­tric air­craft ready for take­off

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By LIU CE in Shenyang li­uce@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ev­ery sunny day, there are al­ways three white elec­tric RX1E air­planes cir­cling over­head at north­ern Shenyang’s Caihu gen­eral avi­a­tion air­port in Liaon­ing prov­ince.

The two-seater plane can fly for 45 to 60 min­utes at a max­i­mum speed of 120 kilo­me­ters an hour af­ter an hour-and-a-half of charg­ing. And it is China’s first elec­tric air­plane which is ready for mass pro­duc­tion.

Four air­craft are cur­rently in ser­vice, and an­other 20 due to be pro­duced this year.

“Due to the pos­i­tive mar­ket feed­back, we will build a new fac­tory with an out­put of 100 air­craft per year. It is planned to go into op­er­a­tion in 2017,” said Zhao Li­jie, vi­cepres­i­dent of Liaon­ingGen­eral Avi­a­tion Academy.

De­vel­oped by LGAA and its part­ners, the RX1E could be used for pi­lot train­ing, sight­see­ing and aerial pho­tog­ra­phy.

The plane is en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and has many ad­van­tages com­pared with gaso­line-fu­eled ones. “It’s pol­lu­tion-free, quiet and easy to pi­lot,” Zhao said.

It took two-and-a-half years of in­tense work to de­velop the air­craft.

Ac­cord­ing toGuChao, one of the de­sign­ers, the core prob­lem is how to con­trol the weight of the plane.

Fi­nally, the R&D team found the way by us­ing all­com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als and im­prov­ing the mo­tor ef­fi­ciency to 94%, which helped in­crease the op­er­a­tion rate of the lithium bat­tery.

“I can’t re­mem­ber how many times we slept on the ground in the com­pos­ing room, along­side the plane,” Gu re­called.

How­ever, their hard work paid off.

The air­craft re­ceived its air­wor­thi­ness cer­tifi­cate from the CivilAvi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China early last year.

“RX1E is the only elec­tric sports light plane in the world that has both a model de­sign ap­proval cer­tifi­cate and a pro­duc­tion cer­tifi­cate,” Zhao said.

But fur­ther progress is in the pipe­line.

“This year, we will mainly work­ing on in­creas­ing the fly­ing time to 1.5 hours or even 2 hours. Also, we will im­prove the do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion rate from 90 per­cent to 100 per­cent,” Zhao added.

RX1E drew lots of at­ten­tion from Europe since it par­tic­i­pated in many in­ter­na­tional air­craft ex­hi­bi­tions last year. “But the do­mes­tic mar­ket has great po­ten­tial,” Zhao said.

Ac­cord­ing to the CAAC, de­vel­op­ment of the gen­eral avi­a­tion in­dus­try will speed up dur­ing the 13th Five-Year Plan (201620). By the end of 2020, there will be more than 5,000 all-pur­pose air­craft and more than 500 gen­eral avi­a­tion air­ports around the coun­try.

How­ever, the gen­eral avi­a­tion in­dus­try in China is still at the ini­tial stage. There­fore, LGAA is do­ing a great deal of work on­mar­ket cul­ti­va­tion.

It set up a gen­eral avi­a­tion club last year in Shenyang which can train light air­craft pi­lots.

“It has been proven in other coun­tries that hav­ing pri­vate planes would be a trend with eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Now, the ma­ture tech­nol­ogy and in­creas­ing de­mand pro­vide a good op­por­tu­nity for de­vel­op­ing gen­eral avi­a­tion in­dus­try. We are de­vel­op­ing elec­tric four-seat air­craft. We hope to push for­ward the green avi­a­tion in­dus­try’s de­vel­op­ment,” Zhao said.

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