There’s no mountain that can’t be conquered by Shanghai-based aircraft maker Yuneec International – literally. The company plans to prove that by flying two of its e430 electric aircraft prototypes in formation over the top of the 29,029ft (8,848m) summit of Mt. Everest in January or February, drawing attention to the viability of electric-powered flight and Yuneec’s designs.
Yuneec (pronounced “unique”) has its latest iteration of the e430 two-place, electric powered aircraft at AirVenture 2010, with several modifications and upgrades from last year’s version. Included are removable wingtips to allow the aircraft to fit into a T-hangar; more leg room in the two-place side-by-side cabin; new Lithium polymer batteries that boost flight time from 1.5h to 2h and an increased battery life of 1,500 cycles, which ideally will equate to 3,000h of flight time. Batteries will take 3h to charge, though Yuneec is developing a more expensive 1h charging system that could be used by flight schools for quick turnaround operations.
Pierre Hallet, the company’s distributor in France, will fly one of the Everest aircraft. Hallet says the only required modification to the aircraft is the addition of a variable pitch propeller made by Duc. Hallet says the first e430 production aircraft is to be completed by the end of 2011, with the first delivery to a US customer thereafter.