Bye Aerospace said Sunday at EAA AirVenture that it has received 624 “customer commitments” for its series of all-electric eFlyer training aircraft: 170 deposits, 318 memoranda of understanding (MOUs), and 136 MOU options. Major new orders include a commitment for 60 eFlyer2 two-seat aircraft from Norway’s OSM Group and 100 eFlyer4 models from BlackBird air taxi. CEO George Bye said that the company’s technology demonstrator aircraft recently began flying with a 20 percent more powerful Rolls-Royce Siemens SB70 V10 motor that can deliver speeds of up to 90 knots while consuming 35 kilowatts of power and the ability to carry 450 pounds of passenger payload for flight durations up to three hours.
He further said noise from the aircraft is not detectable at a distance of 500 feet on the ground and that the production aircraft would be equipped with both cabin heat and air conditioning to enhance passenger comfort and provide a more stable battery environment. Other planned aircraft features include a new three-blade propeller, Garmin G3X avionics, and a BRS emergency whole-aircraft parachute system.
According to Bye, the market for both the two-passenger eFlyer2 and the larger four-passenger eFlyer4 could be up to 60,000 units and that the company has set a target of 20,000 aircraft. “It’s a $9 billion business case,” he said, noting that direct operating costs for both aircraft were $23 and $30 per hour, respectively, some $100 less per hour than comparable avgas-powered aircraft.
The company is focused on selling into the aircraft training market where much of the fleet is populated by aircraft that are 50 years old and the cost of training—more than $150,000 for airline pilot candidates—discourages many students. “Pilot training is our top priority,” Bye said, noting that 30 percent of the nation’s airline pilots will retire in the next three years. “We’ll have a shortage of 15,000 pilots in the U.S. by 2026,” and need an additional 790,000 pilots over the next 20 years, he said.
Bye said his company had recently grown to 47 employees, received new venture capital, and had begun work on a third design, a retractable gear and pressurized eFlyerX that would offer greater speed and range than the eFlyer4.