Bye Energy and Cessna Working on Electric Skyhawk Trainer

A Cessna 172 aircraft

Bye Energy, Inc., a “clean energy solutions integrator for general aviation,” announced last Nov. 30 that it will produce a battery-powered Cessna 172 trainer. George Bye, Founder and CEO of Bye Energy, Inc., told Aviation Week that the technology already exists to produce just such an aircraft and, accordingly, the training market is a primary target for his avgas-less aspirations.

George Bye says his company will have a battery-powered N-model Skyhawk flying out of Denver’s Centennial Airport by next spring. Cessna Aircraft is assisting in the project.

The goal is to produce an electric-powered 172 with performance, weights and range identical to or better than those of the current, avgas burning aircraft. The electric aircraft would halve operating costs, reduce engine maintenance dramatically, and eliminate emissions altogether, Bye says. He concedes that existing batteries will not deliver those results, but insists the technology is advancing rapidly and should be equal to the challenge in the near future.

Meanwhile, he says current technology will permit conversion to an electric-power two-seat 172 with a two-hour endurance, an ideal combination for the training market.

Charlie Johnson, the former Cessna president who serves as Bye’s COO, says developing an STC for the conversion which includes a new cowling, six-bladed prop, solar panels and wingtip vortex regenerators, should take about two years, once that phase of development begins in earnest.

The conversion, he said, will ideally cost about the same as a top-of-the-line piston engine overhaul. However, that figure does not include the price of the batteries.

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a four-seat, single-engine, high-wing fixed-wing aircraft which first flew in 1955. It is still in production, and more Cessna 172s have been built than any other aircraft.


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