ISO 9001 & UKAS Registered, Electron Beam Services in the United Kingdom ISO 9001 & UKAS Registered, Electron Beam Services in the United Kingdom

American aircraft manufacturer Bye Aerospace has announced an all-electric aircraft capable of carrying seven passengers and two pilots. Called the eFlyer 800, the company says it has already taken despots from customers eager to order the aircraft, however, there yet no confirmed release date.

Aviation Today reports that the eFlyer 800 is capable of speeds of up to 320 knots (593 km/h) and can fly up to 500 nautical miles (926 kilometres) on one battery charge (at a cruising speed of 280 knots/519 km/h), plus 45 minutes IFR reserve.

Bye developed the electric aircraft with French technology group Safran, which is supplying the propulsion system with its ENGINeUS motors and GENeUSGRID energy management system.

While there are no details of the power rating of the motors, the Safran system covers the range from 50 kW up to 500 kW – or 1 MW with two motors. Battery storage will be lithium sulphur cells being supplied from Oxis Energy.

The eFlyer 800 will be Bye’s first aircraft, and aside from being said to have two motors, further technical details and data have not yet been released. Simulations have indicated that the aircraft will be able to fly up to an altitude of 35,000ft, which is significantly more than comparable non-electric aircraft.

The eight to nine-seat aircraft sector is dominated by propeller-driven machines with turboprop or piston engines. However, these engines lose power with increasing altitude and oxygen content in the air, which limits the flight altitude. Electric motors do not suffer from such power loss.

The eFlyer 800 marks a ‘huge leap in terms of range and speed’ compared to Bye’s previous projects, which include a four-seat eFlyer 4 and two-seat eFlyer 2, which are micro-aircraft that can only be used commercially to a limited extend. Bye Aerospace is still working on the FAA certification of eFlyer 2 and eFlyer 4.

The eFlyer 800, on the other hand, could poach ‘in the territories of traditional aircraft manufacturers, if the simulation data is accurate.

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When NASA’s Perseverance probe arrived on Mars in February, it was carrying an important piece of equipment, an experimental helicopter drone called Ingenuity, which aims to be the first flying vehicle on the Red Planet or any other planet than Earth.

The Guardian reports that NASA has announced that Ingenuity has been lowered from its storage underneath Perseverance not the surface of Mars, and was now facing a series of tests before it takes to the skies for its maiden flight on Wednesday 14 April.

The drone had to complete its first test, to protect itself from the freezing conditions on Mars, with readings from Perseverance recording temperatures in its landing area, the Jezero Crater, at -83ºC.

After surviving its first night away from the mothership, the helicopter used its solar-powered battery to operate a heater to keep its delicate electrical equipment from damage. NASA said the success of the initial tests was a ‘major milestone’.

MiMi Aung, Ingenuity’s project leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that while her team did all it could to prepare the helicopter, the group was very excited to see the results of their work on Mars.

“We now have confirmation that we have the right insulation, the right heaters, and enough energy in its battery to survive the cold night, which is a big win for the team,” she said. “We're excited to continue to prepare Ingenuity for its first flight test."

The next tests will involve Ingenuity’s motors and rotor equipment, in which it will attempt to rise about three metres off the surface of Mars, before briefly using forward into the planet’s extremely thin atmosphere, before turning around and landing again.

Further tests, once this first flight has been deemed successful, will push Ingenuity a little higher and further each time. NASA says such helicopters could assist astronauts on future search and collection missions.

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