Aircraft lessor Skye Aviation has ordered 15 of Bye Aerospace's new eFlyer 800 electric aircraft, provisionally increasing the manufacturer's order total to 800. According to company founder and CEO George Bye, each order for the nine-seat fixed-wing aircraft is backed by a $25,000 deposit, and the purchase price for the model is expected to be around $6 million when it enters service in 2025.
Announced earlier this year, the eFlyer 800 is being designed to carry seven passengers and two pilots with a range of 575 miles and speeds to 368 mph. It will be powered by a pair of dual-wound Safran Engineus electric motors with battery packs designed to recharge within 20 to 30 minutes. The batteries are divided into four packs, two in the aircraft floor and one in the rear of each electric motor on the wings.
According to Bye, there is a high degree of safety redundancy between the two battery packs with a power management system determining available power levels. "This is literally a four-motor airplane with two props and a four-fold electric storage system," Bye explained. "The key thing here is that this is a three-hour airplane. It’s a thoughtful integration of a whole [system] as opposed to just chucking in batteries of a certain technology—sophisticated yet simple and redundant systems integrated into a structure that is incredibly sleek. This has a lift-over-drag ratio of about 20 to one.”
Bye said the aircraft would use a proprietary design for the battery packs and thermal management system. “The secret sauce is how the cell is packed, the thermal management, and how you maintain safety. The decision-makers and the FAA want to know how you maintain safety,” he said, adding that “every single battery cell is monitored—full time. Any bad player is taken out.” Bye said the company had been flying such a thermal management system on its prototype aircraft for over five years.
Like Bye Aerospace, Skye Aviation is based in Denver. It claims to be the world's first leasing company with a portfolio entirely composed of electric aircraft. Other announced customers for the eFlyer 800 include private flight group Jet It and its European affiliate JetClub and Rheinland Air Service, which is Bye's distributor in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.
Meanwhile, Bye Aerospace also is in the process of obtaining FAA Part 23 certification for its eFlyer 2, a two-seat primary trainer, and the larger, four-seat eFlyer 4 designed for air taxi, cargo, and advanced training uses. Orders for these models are backed by $5,000 and $10,000 deposits, respectively, according to the company.
During a press conference at the EAA AirVenture show on July 29, the company also announced that Garmin would supply its G500 TXi avionics system for the eFlyer 2. The package provides a high-resolution touchscreen display, VFR and IFR GPS/NAV/COMM, standby, and transponder capabilities as well as electric propulsion information, synthetic vision, terrain and traffic alerting, and geo-referenced charts. “We want to provide our flight school customers with the best user experience possible, and we believe the G500 TXi is the ideal avionics package,” Bye said.
The company has upgraded its performance targets for the eFlyer 2 eFlyer 4. The aircraft now has a cruising speed of 159 mph, three hours’ endurance, and 253 miles of range. Speed on the eFlyer 4 increases to 230 mph, thanks to a 200-kW motor. The range is now 380 miles. “People are going to be ‘shocked,’ how fast electric can be,” Bye told FutureFlight. “That’s Cirrus SR-22, that’s [Beechcraft] Bonanza kind of speed.”