First solar-electric aircraft makes waves in the aerospace manufacturing sector
Aero Electric Aircraft Corp. (AEAC) has entered the next phase of development for its high tech solar-electric training aircraft called ‘Sun Flyer’.
AEAC, in conjunction with its development partner, Bye Aerospace, is performing initial R&D flight test operations with the solar-electric technology demonstrator at Centennial Airport near Denver. The single-seat technology demonstrator, which is the basis for the Sun Flyer, made its debut at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in late July. According to reports, flight tests will continue for the next six-to-nine months while the two-seat prototype Sun Flyer is being assembled.
George Bye, CEO of AEAC, said initial test results are confirming the overall benefits of solar-electric propulsion, especially the very low operating costs. Reduced maintenance due to fewer moving parts, low-noise flight, and solar recharging on the ground and in flight are additional benefits that come with the technology.
“The support and interest we are receiving from the general aviation community is tremendous,” Bye said. “The consistent feedback we receive is this new electric approach is more practical from both an economics and operations perspective. The solar-electric Sun Flyer is a critically important product – a true breakthrough training aircraft when general aviation needs it most.”
AEAC is primarily targeting flight schools for Sun Flyer all-electric airplane serving the training, recreational, and general aviation markets. The company is also collaborating with Redbird Flight Simulations and Spartan Aeronautical College to offer a comprehensive pilot training system.
The first of its kind, Sun Flyer is set to make waves in the aerospace manufacturing industry and could pave the way for more R&D in the solar-electric aviation sector.
IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.