Richard Saint-George was the fifth test pilot
to fly the E430.
Electric engine and battery monitor.
The Yuneec's electric motor.
Cédric Carré, commander of the aerodrome,
reinstalls the battery.
The wind is straight down the runway, the temperature is + 2°C ( 37° F; the batteries can be used
down to - 20° C), the cloud base is broken at 2,500
feet, and there’s 8 km ( 5 miles) of visibility. Like all
of the airfields in Belgium, Saint-Ghislain is towered, and I’ve borrowed a handheld radio to talk to
the tower. There’s no real run-up with this aeroplane; the pre-takeoff checks simply involve
checking that the canopy is closed and locked,
making sure that the controls are full and free, and
casting your eyes over the data provided by the
Yuneec screen. The strangest thing is doing all this
in silence with a stationary propeller!
Before pulling onto the runway, I reach forward and pull on two stages of flaps (think Piper
manual flaps rather than Cessna electric). My
takeoff clearance crackles over the radio, and I
move the power lever (or should that be rheostat?) forward until I get 100 percent power. The
DUC is turning at 2550 rpm and is responsible for
what little noise there is.
The runway is 700 meters (about 2,300 feet)
long, about five times as much as I need. Seven seconds after applying full power, I climb away. The
nose is pitched up about 10 degrees and one stage
of flaps comes off. I’m climbing at between 350 and
400 fpm—this is really quiet and the motor is running like a watch. Climbing out, I make a couple of
gentle left-hand turns and climb out downwind
with Mons visible in the distance. I stop the climb
at 1,650 feet and trim for level flight. As per
Olivier’s suggestion, I still have one stage of flaps
set—bringing it up would give it a slightly positive
setting, something that will be adjusted out in the
coming months. Despite some ballast in the tail,
the center of gravity is forward, and even full back-trim is not enough to trim out this force. I find that
I need to maintain a slight back-pressure to stay
level—this makes it pretty much impossible to look
at any longitudinal stability. This is a light aircraft
with a big wing, and that manifests itself when I
pass through some turbulence.
I find that I’m checking the power reserve
pretty much every minute. I took off with 147 volts
and still have plenty in hand before reaching the
lower limit of 118 volts. Time to take a look at the
cruise. With 85 percent power set, the prop rpm
settles at 2200. I make a few runs and note the
number from the GPS. This later translates to 68
knots. I’d guess that there’s another 10 knots to be
had by flying clean with properly adjusted flaps.
The course reversals for the speed run give me a
chance to look at the adverse yaw. Turning with
the ailerons, but without using your feet on the
rudder, results in the nose going about 15 degrees
in the wrong direction—very glider-like.
Coordinated turns with added rudder are, how-
ever, straightforward, although a bit more
differential aileron would help.
Richard Saint-George was born in France and lived
in Switzerland before moving to Canada in 1991. He
holds a commercial pilot license for single- and multiengine
aircraft, land and sea, and specializes in evaluation flights for
international aviation magazines
Reprinted by permission from the British magazine Flyer.