A number of companies are developing electric power plants for aircraft, basically for powered gliders and small ultralight aircraft. In most of these designs the power plant is of secondary importance and the aircraft can fly, or better, glide considerable distances without an engine purely by its basic aerodynamic properties.
Developments are in progress to electrify some every day general aviation class aircraft or even new designs. Because of many limitations to overcome, large scale applications will not come any time soon. The main problem is energy storage: liquid fuel (Mogas, AVgas or Jet fuel) has the highest energy density per weight, which is very hard to beat, except for nuclear fission or fusion. This will limit the range of any aircraft trying to fly any considerable amount of time or distance with a worthwhile payload.
On this page we line up those manufacturers. The list may very well be not complete and some might even have disappeared altogether, but here it is.
Made in Slovenia, this is a small two seat trainer production certified e-aircraft with two battery packs, one hour endurance plus 30 min reserve. Learn more about this aircraft on our page here. The company is also planning a hybrid Panthera powered by a Rotax 914/5 and generator, battery and propeller driven by an electric motor.
The Magnus company is based in Hungary and they manufacture the eFusion in cooperation with Siemens. The first eFusion has made its maiden flight on April 11, 2016. Its performance is comparable to a Rotax 912s powered Fusion. Not much information is available on the company website.
MagniX develops high power density electric motors to power aircraft. They envision open skies, allowing people to embark on journeys and packages to be delivered. Makes me wonder what we have been doing the last 100 years or so as air travel is doing just that. They also claim emission free. Well, where do they think the electricity is coming from to power these motors as renewable energy has a mere 2% share in the total energy production of the world.
The company has two electric motors available: the magni250 with a power of 280 kW and the magni500: a 560 kW model. They also fabricate an electronic drive unit: 170 kW magniDrive. More technical information can be found on the company website.
Together they are developing a Cessna Caravan with a Magni500 electric motor and are test flying early 2020, see the webpage of MagniX eCaravan. The company claims that these e-aircraft are economically feasible for short range commute and battery technology will advance far enough. Time will only tell.
MagniX has equipped a deHavilland Beaver DHC-2 with their magni500 (560 kW / 750 hp) electric motor and battery pack. This model aircraft is being used by Harbour Air Seaplanes in Richmond, British Columbia Canada on short haul trips of around 30 minutes. The engine is derated to 450 hp and drives a 4-bladed Hartzell propeller and the battery pack (filling the cabin of the prototype to its maximum weight) supplies the energy for the 15 min flight and has 25 min reserve. They also plan to convert the Otter to electric drive too, but then the motor will configured to supply maximum power. FAA certification is in the works. For more details see the website of Harbour Air.
Is a company based in Israel developing a nine (9) place fully electric commuter style aircraft (Alice) with the looks of a shark in a tail dragger configuration. It is powered by three (3) engines each 354 hp (264 kW cruise), one at each wing tip and one in the tail, pusher style configuration. Its Li-Ion battery pack contains 920 kWh and weighs 3600 kg, total MTOW is 5700 kg. More information on the Eviation website.
Their prototype aircraft was substantially damaged in a battery system fire in January 2020, with the exact cause and damage unknown at the end of Jan, 2020. More in this article from AVweb.
The engines and drive electronics are made by the same company that installed the engine in the Beaver and Otter: MagniX Aero.
The company is developing the eFlyer, two seat (four seat in the works) since 2014. The engine used in these aircraft is from Siemens. More information on the Bye Aerospace website.
This California based company is using a Cessna 337 SkyMaster and they have removed the rear engine, installing a battery powered electric engine to reduce emissions and noise. It is one of the largest hybrid aircraft to date (their claim in 2019). They also say the third revolution in aviation being electric. We can only hope they know something about battery physics (that we don't) making this possible. More here on the AmpAir website.
A 2011 startup UK company is developing an electric Nemesis NXT airframe together with Roll-Royce. This airframe was one of the few still around and suitable to contain the battery pack in the fuselage. Propulsion is with three (!) electric motors, 750R AC from YASA, driving a single MT constant speed propeller.
The battery pack consist of three channels, one for each motor. Total number of cells is 6000 at a weight of 2600 lbs / 1180 kg and has no protective metal box as in cars. It weighs more than the rest of the aircraft. The system also includes three DC/AC converters to feed the motors. For cooling a pump and heat exchanger with a non-conductive coolant as this runs within and through the battery.
Endurance at maximum power is 6 minutes, with partial power takeoffs expect 10 minutes over the airport. More info at Avweb Inside .
Yuneec International E430 was in 2009 developing the E430 which is a twin seat, single engine, LSA class aircraft with a significant difference to every commercially available plane that has come before it – it is entirely electric. The lightweight composite construction E430 charges in three hours from a domestic 230 volt power point and runs for two and half hours on a charge.
Wing Span: 13.8 m (45.2 ft), Fuselage Length: 6.68 m (21.9 ft), Empty Weight:178 kg (392 lbs) (No Battery), Maximum Takeoff Weight: 430 kg (946 lbs), Motor Output: 40 kw (54 hp) @ 2,450 RPM, Battery Type: Lithium Polymer, Battery Weight: 72 kg (158.5 lbs) (6 Packs). Information from NewAtlas Yuneec.