EAA AirVenture

'Electrolite' Ultralight Announced

 - July 24, 2019, 8:53 PM

Aeromarine LSA will be offering its single-seat “Electrolite” Part 103 electric-powered ultralight beginning in the fourth quarter, it announced this week at EAA Airventure. The aircraft has an optional $10,000 remote control unit which would allow an instructor to take control of the aircraft from the ground, maneuver the aircraft, land it, or even deploy the ballistic recovery parachute. 

The Electrolite is based on the Zigolo gas-powered ultralight made in Italy, and the electric motors will come from a Chinese supplier. Aeromarine principal Chip Erwin said the aircraft would be available either as a quick-build kit for $19,900 or finished for $24,900.

“This answers the question of how you train someone in an aircraft that does not even require a pilot’s license,” Erwin said, adding that the responsiveness of electric power made it “ideal” for an ultralight aircraft, which could be equipped with a small video camera and even biometrics on the student to make it a fully wired trainer. He added that it “was not a big step” to make the aircraft fully autonomous in countries where that is permitted. (The FAA does not allow autonomous aircraft under Part 103.) Tests so far have shown that the controller-to-aircraft range is about 500 yards, Erwin said. The lightweight servos needed to make the aircraft remote-pilot optional weigh about a quarter-pound each and produced no control friction at 30 mph, he said. 

Erwin pointed out that the wing-mounted batteries are designed for quick change and jettisonable in the event of fire. Recharging time is 2.5 hours and endurance is up to one hour. The aircraft stalls at 19 knots, has a maximum speed of 39 knots, and a takeoff roll of about one-hundred feet. Erwin says the aircraft mushes as opposed to a hard break stall. He said bringing electric power to the aircraft was a good fit. 

“It’s such a perfect match to get rid of the two-stroke engine,” he said. Erwin said Aeromarine would begin taking $2,000 deposits for the aircraft later this year and that plans are to move aircraft production to the United States.