The skies above China may soon be filled with adorable two-seater planes running on electricity. The versatile and eco-friendly RX1E is expected to have huge markets within the country and abroad.
"The RX1E is scheduled to receive its airworthiness certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China before the end of this year, with production expected to start next year," China Daily quoted Yang Fengtian, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, as he spoke at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (air show) in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.
Fengtian, who is also the president of the Shenyang Aerospace University in Liaoning province, had headed the development of RX1E. The prototypes of the two-seater light-duty, electric plane were at the air show.
"This will be the first electric aircraft to be certified by our civil aviation authority. The success of the plane means China has become a technology leader in this filed," Fengtian had declared.
Electric planes run on electric motors, with electricity coming from fuel cells, solar cells, ultra-capacitors, power beaming or batteries. Although the first manned, electrically powered light flight was made in as early as 1973, most electric aircrafts are still experimental models.
Provided the batteries as fully charged at the time of take off, RX1E can fly up to 90 minutes, at an altitude of nearly 3,000 meters and maintain a speed of up to 160 kilometres per hour. According to Song Mingkai, the designer of the electric flight will cost one only 20 yuan, which also includes the 5 yuan for the charging of the battery.
The RX1Es are expected to serve a range of purposes including police patrol, flight training, entertainment, mapping surveys and so on, owing to its low operating costs, easy maintenance, high levels of safety and eco-friendliness.
Hence, Fengtian's plan to bring out 100 units of RX1Es within three years is expected to be successful mission. The plane, along with a set of batteries would cost nearly a million yuan ($163,000).
The construction of a plant that can manufacture about 100 RX1Es every year is also underway in Shenyang, Fengtian revealed before adding, "In addition to the domestic market, it also has promising prospects in the European and United States markets, as many foreign enterprises have contacted us to express interest in it."
While RX1E may be the first electric flight to be mass produced, the first electric flight ever was developed by Toulouse-based Airbus and was named 'E-Fan'. It had made its maiden flight on 25 April 2014 and lasted for less than 10 minutes.