In a direct and timely response to my personal angst about the carbon footprint of single engine airplanes, George Bye of Bye Energy has developed the first hybrid electric Cessna 172. According to an article on the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association website, Bye plans to fly a converted 1978 Cessna 172 some time next spring. Bye, along with Cessna officials, will brief aviation press about the project at the AOPA summit in Long Beach, CA on November 11.
The 4-seater will have the backseat removed to make room for lithium ion batteries. The electric engine is indifferent to altitude, unlike fueled engines, so the new technology may actually offer safety advantages.
Bye Energy has two clean energy aviation projects in development: the electric hybrid propulsion single engine aircraft, and bio-derived aviation fuel. In partnership with Cessna, Bye is developing the hybrid aircraft for both new models and retrofit of the existing Cessna fleet.
Since many planes from decades past (like Bye’s current 1978-vintage project) are still flying, retrofit is significant and viable market. Private pilots and skilled mechanics keep old planes flying safely long after cars of the same era have been junked. Making those old planes fly cleaner would greatly improve the carbon footprint of general aviation, while keeping alive general aviation’s good practice of reusing, recycling, and updating expensive aircraft.
Thank you George and Cessna, you made my week.