Santa Monica already has a strong current of electric vehicles. You can buy a Tesla on the Promenade, rent an electric bike on the beach, battery-powered skateboards are common sights on city streets and anyone can hail a ride from the electric Free Ride. While the current options are fairly diverse, they all restricted to ground-based transit but the Santa Monica museum of Flying is hoping to spark some interest in a new kind of electric vehicle: planes.
The Santa Monica Airport Association and the Museum will host George Bye, CEO of Bye Aerospace this Saturday for a discussion on the benefits of electric flight and the future of flight training.
Bye’s company specializes in solar or hybrid aircraft for the general aviation, aerospace and defense, near-space and atmospheric satellite markets. His talk will focus on their upcoming “Sun Flyer” family of planes that include small electric aircraft and solar-electric hybrid unmanned vehicle concepts.
While Bye is based in Colorado, he said California is a natural fit for this electric approach to aviation. He said the state already welcomes electric or hybrid cars on its streets and there’s a strong opportunity to transfer that interest to the world of aircraft because the benefits of electric vehicles are even more pronounced when applied to planes.
“Our particular sensitivity to noise, to pollutants, the co2 and emissions from Avgas consumption that are relatively unique compared to a ground vehicle and of course the cost,” he said of the advantages of electric engines. “It’s such a difference in cost, the benefits of the vehicle, the performance, the noise, the pollutants, together with the lower operating costs is a gigantic opportunity and advantage.”
Dave Hopkins, Vice President of the Santa Monica Airport Association, said the event is timely, given the possibilities of electric flight. “We are honored to welcome George, who has been at the forefront of electric aviation for years,” he said. “Electric aircraft, which offer zero emissions and near-silent operation would be most welcome at Santa Monica Airport for the next 100 years of operation at the historic airport.”
Bye said he is preparing a presentation and allowing time for questions. He said he’s anticipating an interested and engaged crowd in Santa Monica.
“It should be enjoyable,” he said. “It will be a deeper technical dive than most and an opportunity to talk about the future of aviation.”
Bye is a Desert Storm veteran with years of flight experience under his belt and a history of developing cutting-edge aircraft. He said his company has been working on electric planes for the past 10-years and the time is almost here for a significant shift in how aircraft are built.
“It’s not a trivial process,” he said of the development cycle. “All of the aviation community would want there to be a great deal of rigor and proper research. We have to work with the FAA and all of those things are important to a successful outcome. We’re being very careful to proceed with that proper process … Electric aircrafts are on the near horizon. The Santa Monica Airport Community will certainly be a wonderful location for electric aircraft, in my view.”
The event will be held on Saturday, January 20 at the Museum of Flying, 3100 Airport Avenue. The museum will provide a special $5 admission from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Bye’s presentation will begin at 10 a.m.
For more information and to reserve tickets visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/electric-airplane-morning-with-george-bye-tickets-42061377713.