Solar Impulse co-founder and pilot Andre Borschberg has launched a new venture to develop certified electric propulsion systems for air transport.
Borschberg has co-founded H55, based in Nyon, Switzerland. The company has already completed more than 50 hr. of flight testing of a single-seat electric-powered demonstrator, the Aero1. It is based on Silence Aircraft’s Twister kitplane.
The demonstrator, a fixed-gear aerobatic aircraft, was built in 2016 by Hangar 55. That company was founded by Air Zermatt pilot Thomas Pfammatter and aerobatic paragliding champion Dominique Steffen.
Pfammatter and Steffen are co-founders of H55, along with former Solar Impulse members Sebastien Demont and Gregory Blatt.
Borschberg piloted eight of the 17 legs of Solar Impulse 2’s around-the-world flight. It launched in March 2015, and completed in July 2016. Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard piloted the other flights.
The 236-ft.-wingspan, four-motor aircraft had more than 17,000 photovoltaic cells on its upper surfaces. These collected solar energy during the day, and recharged the batteries used to fly through the night.
“H55 focuses on the entire propulsion chain, starting from the energy source and its management, right through thrust and power, as well as pilot interface and all control systems,” the company said.
The first public flight of Lithuanian-registered Aero1 took place in September 2016 in Raron, Switzerland. It was the country’s first electric aerobatic aircraft. The Siemens-powered aircraft has a battery endurance exceeding 1 hr., H55 said.