Coming to a major aviation event is always a thrill. On Wednesday I arrived at AERO Friedrichshafen, Europe’s biggest general aviation show, and got to take part in a behind-the-scenes tour before the crowds arrived for the next day’s opening. It was a great chance to take in the huge variety of aircraft on offer and learn a little more about some of the innovations taking place in Europe and around the world.
The first stop on my tour was helicopters, where I was impressed with the number of different aircraft on offer and the many missions they were designed to fly–from personal transport to rescue to industrial use.
A few minutes later we got to see an all-electric airplane now in flight testing. It looks to be among the first of a crop of new planes to be powered solely by electric engines. This one, the Yuneec E430, is made in China, boasts a 54 horsepower motor, and up two hours of powered flight time with two on board–that’s plenty since it’s a motorglider and spends much of its in-flight time powered down. The company hopes to reach full-scale production next year and has put a price tag of $90,000 on its plane.
While the E430 has been flying since last year, there’s plenty of competition close on its heels and we expect to see several other all-electric aircraft at the show, including the Elektra One from Germany’s PC Aero.
Of course, while we were looking at the great new products on offer, we had a little housekeeping of our own to do. It’s amazing to watch a convention hall come to life and transform, in a matter of hours, from a cavernous, empty space, to a virtual shopping mall of aviation. Our own booth was not quite ready to go when I stopped by and took this picture.
I’ll have much more to report tomorrow when things get going in earnest, so stay tuned.