Bye Energy says its electrified Cessna 172N aircraft modified with 318kg (700lb) Lithium batteries and an electric motor is progressing towards first flight in the first quarter of 2011.
In addition to mounting its first test motor, the company chief executive George Bye says he will reveal in mid-November a "large partner" who has been "quietly working with us" to develop electronic displays that will replace the piston-powered single´s engine gauges with energy management information.
The project, part of the company´s "Beyond the Edge" clean energy initiative, is expected to terminate in a supplemental type certificate for a two-seat version of the 172 in 12-18 months and a four-seat version in two to three years, says Bye chief operating officer, Charlie Johnson, a former president at Cessna Aircraft.
Normally a four-seat aircraft, the initial electric 172 will have only the two front seats with batteries in the place of the rear seats, a configuration Bye says will provide some gross weight margin, compared with a C172, with 160 litres (42USgal) of fuel.
At the Experimental Aircraft Association´s AirVenture show in Oshkosh in July, Cessna revealed that it collaborating with Bye "to design and develop an electric propulsion system for a Cessna 172 proof-of-concept aircraft". At the time, Bye said the aircraft would fly by year´s end. The proof-of-concept aircraft will use a two-blade, fixed pitch propeller.