Electric FlyNano Prototype Makes Maiden Hop
The Finnish FlyNano aircraft made a short hop off the water on June 11.
By Marino Boric, EAA 1069644, for EAA.org
June 14, 2012 - The FlyNano electric-powered, box-wing prototype airplane that stole the show at the AERO Friedrichshafen 2011 Expo in Germany became airborne for the first time on Monday, July 11, over Lake Hepari, Finland, at 8:09 a.m. local time. The flight was very short - shorter than the Orville Wright's first flight - lasting just 3.8 seconds.
When the all-carbon fiber composite FlyNano concept was presented last year at AERO 2011, it was envisioned to be primarily powered by two two-stroke engines (G 240/300 models) and only later to be electric-powered. However, initial problems with durability of the two-stroke engines and problems with the propeller brought the electric-powered version to the fore. Continuing development of electric motors and batteries was also a factor that led inventor Aki Suokas to decide that the future FlyNano will primarily be equipped with electric powerplants.
Strong customer demand (35 orders) for the electric-powered prototype during and after the presentation encouraged Suokas to drop the gasoline-powered versions and proceed with electric-motor taxi tests in late summer/fall 2011. This powerplant change and time-consuming preparations for the maiden flight together with innumerous water tow-tests (the airplane can start only from water) prevented FlyNano from participating in the AERO 2012, according to the company.
FlyNano's goal is now to start production in this year and deliver the first 35 airplanes by the end of 2013 or first quarter of 2014. The international patent is currently pending to protect the configuration. With the first flight completed, further tests will follow soon. Additional funding is now needed for further project development - almost the biggest challenge in these financially uncertain times, or according to Suokas, who stated, "It is very hard to find financing for such a project."
Suokas, an aviation consultant, flight designer, and enthusiastic pilot, first dreamed of a radical new airplane design about 10 years ago, one that would weigh less than 150 pounds, including a 25-pound engine. FlyNano's wingspan is 16.4 feet, nose to tail just shy of 11.5 feet, and a height 4.26 feet. Maximum takeoff weight is 396-440 pounds. FlyNano's calculated speed range is 40 to 85 mph with a service ceiling of almost 9,000 feet. The single-piece wing is easily removable for transport and storage. Factory price is $40,000 with a trailer/storage box priced at $6,700. For more information, visit the FlyNano website.