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Electric plane ready for mass production

After three years of development, China’s first all-electric light aircraft - the Rui Xiang RX1E - is now fully certificated, and will be finally mass produced.

Made of carbon fiber composite material, the two-seater electric plane can fly up to 90 minutes with full batteries; and it’s a lot cheaper to charge up with electricity than a comparable plane would be for a regular fill-up.

Many countries are focusing on the development of electric planes, with an ultimate goal of reducing fossil fuel usage. And after RX1E receives the certificate early this year, China will soon put this first domestic made electric aircraft into mass production.

The selling points are: convenience of use, low operating costs and no carbon emissions from the plane. It can also serve a wide range of purposes such as police patrols, flight training, and meteorology. The chief designer told us a lot of effort went into obtaining the airworthiness certificate.

“Unlike military aircrafts and commercial jets, there are certain criteria that an electric plane must have before given permission to fly. The plane has to be light enough, and the batteries need to be efficient and reliable overall it has to be cost-effective to be mass produced,” said Yang Fengtian, chief designer of RX1E.

The RX1E has put in 240 hours of trials since the test model rolled out in 2013. During the testing period, the framework of the plane didn’t change much, but the batteries have been improved to enhance the flying hours. The two units which were delivered to their customers last month show the plane is fully ready.

“The RX1E will significantly push the development of China’s general aviation industry, because the bottlenecks facing the current general aviation field are not just airspace resources, but also the lack of low-cost planes like the RX1E,” Yang said.