While Boeing’s Dreamliner can’t seem to stop blowing batteries, there’s a new breed of light aircraft emerging that hope to use them rather than jet fuel. This e-plane, dubbed the Long-EZ, aims to be the fastest of them all.
Developed by Chip Yates, the electric Long-EZ is based on the Rutan Long-EZ, a homebuilt aricraft designed and sold by by Burt Rutan’s Rutan Aircraft Factory since 1976. There are roughly 700 such aircraft currently registered with the FAA.
The Long-EZ is nearly 5m long and almost 3m high with a wingspan of just over 8m. There’s enough room in the cockpit for a pilot and single passenger. Conventionally powered models use a 115HP Lycoming O-235 air-cooled flat-four engine, reach speeds of 300km/h and can cruise at 230km/h for about 3200km on 200 litres of jet fuel.
Yates’ Long-EZ however, forgoes the flat four and gas tank (and back seat) for an 450V, 600 amp (285HP) EnerDel battery with a custom software suite controlling the electrical system. This is a new, twice-as-powerful version of the battery he used last July to hit 202 MPH, breaking the previous e-plane speed record of 280km/h set by the Cri-Cri. The old battery kind of catastrophically failed as he set the record so hopes are high for the new system, and initial test flights with the new power pack have gone well. Yates has reportedly hit 280km/h at just 41 per cent throttle ahead of next month’s official record-setting attempt. [ Wired, Wired, Wikipedia]