A Chinese research institute will begin work on a four-seat electric following the successful test flight of a two-seat version earlier this week.
The two-seat plane, designated as the RX1E-A, achieved a flight time of two hours. With a maximum takeoff weight of 600 kilograms and a cruise speed of up to 160 kilometers per hour, the RX1E-A can fly 120 minutes, starting with fully charged batteries. It can fly at an altitude of nearly 3,000 meters, an official of the Liaoning General Aviation academy told China Daily.
Each hour of flight will cost only 10 yuan for battery charging, according to Xiang Song, a designer for the RX1E-A.
The electric plane project started in 2012, led by Yang Fengtian, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering. It took the team two and a half years of intense work to design an aircraft light enough for electric power, along with a motor efficient enough to maximize the plane's lithium batteries.
In 2014, the team's first aircraft, the two-seat RX1E, went on display in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, and attracted worldwide attention. Liaoning Ruixiang General Aviation Co, a division of the academy, booked 128 orders.
"Flying this plane is like driving my Volkswagen sedan. It is so easy to control that even a beginner can handle the machine," said Chen Zhanwei, the test pilot who has worked on the project for years.
The improved aircraft is equipped with a parachute that can bring both pilot and plane down safely in the event of an emergency.
The plane's easy maintenance, low operating cost, high safety and environmental friendliness will bring many buyers for a wide range of purposes, such as police patrols, flight training, entertainment and mapping surveys, Zou said.
Zou Haining, deputy head of the Liaoning General Aviation Academy, was quoted by China Daily on Friday, "We believe there's a big demand for that type of electric plane, which can carry a bigger load on longer flights. It would transport both people and goods," he said.