Another small electric airplane took to the skies recently in the form of Bye Aerospace's prototype Sun Flyer 2, which made its maiden flight on April 10 at Centennial Airport south of Denver, Colorado. With a gross weight of 1,900 lb (860 kg), the two-seater prop-driven aircraft has a 3.5-hour flight duration thanks to its six lithium-ion battery packs and is intended as a pilot trainer.

This first flight of the Sun Flyer 2 is the latest step in the prototype's flight test program in the run up for full FAA certification. The tests are focused on the LG Chem MJ1 lithium-ion battery cells that have an energy density of 260 Wh/kg and are designed for quick charging while providing increased speed, altitude and endurance capabilities.

The prototype is made out of lightweight composites (mainly carbon fiber), has a low-set cantilever wing, bubble canopy, fixed tricycle undercarriage, and is propelled by a single electric motor in tractor configuration (the propeller in front). It was built by Arion Aircraft of Shelbyville, Tennessee and delivered in March for the tests.

Along with the larger four-seater Sun Flyer 4, which is currently under development, Bye Aerospace says that the Sun Flyer 2 is aimed at the general aviation market with a special focus on the pilot training sector thanks to its low-noise profile and inexpensive running costs.

"We are excited about the future and the potential the Sun Flyer family of aircraft has to revolutionize general aviation, providing improved affordability and accessibility," says George Bye, Founder and CEO of Bye Aerospace. "Lower operating costs are key to solving the student pilot dropout rate, which is curtailing the successful attainment of badly needed airline pilots. The Sun Flyer 2's three dollar hourly operating costs are 10 times lower than traditional piston-engine flight trainers, with no carbon emissions and significantly reduced noise."

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