China’s first four-seater electric aircraft, the RX4E, broke through a light wind and rain and successfully flew for the first time at Caihu Airport in Shenyang, Liaoning Province this week, Xinhua reported.

The four-seater RX4E is a new energy general aviation product developed by Shenyang-based Liaoning General Aviation Research Institute, which is also involved research, development and the manufacture of both military and civil UAVs.

In order to ensure an extended flight time and range, the RX4E is equipped with a battery system with a total capacity of nearly 70 kilowatt hours, the report said.

In addition to being electric, the plane has a very prominent feature — it’s small and light.

Carbon fiber composites are widely used in RX4E’s structure, accounting for 77% of the total structural weight of the whole aircraft. Compared with traditional aluminum aircraft, carbon fiber composites feature light weight, high strength and corrosion resistance.

Statistically, the wingspan of the aircraft is 13.5m, the take-off weight is 1,200kg, the flight time is 1.5 hours and the flight range is 300km. With the development of battery energy storage technology, the range can be further improved, officials said.

Carbon fiber composites are widely used in RX4E’s structure, accounting for 77% of the total structural weight of the whole aircraft. Credit: Xinhua.

“The two-seater electric aircraft we developed before was hailed at the Zhuhai Air Show, ” Geng Hao, director of the design department of Liaoning General Aviation Research Institute, said. “When the plane flew, the sound was so low that it was almost inaudible, and the same was true of the four-seater.

“In addition, the degree of electrical integration is particularly high, and aircraft cockpit instrumentation is much less than other aircraft, which reduces the operational burden on pilots during flight.”

The RX4E has excellent low-speed take-off and landing performance and good stall characteristics. It can also land or take off just about anywhere, including grass strips or hard sand pavement, the report said.

“The RX4E aircraft has huge development space and market prospects — it can be used in short-distance transportation, pilot training, sightseeing travel, aerial photography, aerial mapping and other fields,” said Zhao Tienan, vice president of Liaoning General Aviation Research Institute.

“In addition, the market applications for the RX4E will accumulate technical experience for electric passenger and cargo aircraft, and provide forward-looking guidance and research examples for the development of airport supporting construction and future airport planning. “