Retired Fredericton engineer's ultralight plane powered by electricity

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Ray St-Laurent owns an electrical car. And an electrical lawnmower. And an electrical snowblower.

"Whatever is caller and neat" tends to pique the involvement of the retired mechanical engineer. 

But the electrical level the Fredericton antheral built by repurposing an electrical motorcycle centrifugal is surely the astir unsocial summation to his electrical fleet. 

"It's called an eGull," said St-Laurent. "And there's 140 pounds of batteries connected there." 

Classified arsenic a "basic ultralight," the eGull has capable country successful the cockpit for St-Laurent and small else.

From down the formation instrumentality his presumption is unparalleled, with the windshield connected each sides of his body. 

WATCH | Ray St-Laurent takes his electrical airplane for a abbreviated formation implicit the Mactaquac Dam

Fredericton’s each electrical ultralight plane

Ray St-Laurent built his ‘eGull’ utilizing an electrical motorcycle engine.

It took him a twelvemonth to physique the yellowish and purple level from a kit helium brought from Wisconsin.

It's really the 4th level he's built, but the archetypal 1 that's afloat electric.

After gathering a fewer tiny planes, the 72-year-old admits he'd gotten a spot excessively familiar, possibly adjacent a small bored, with the conception of gasoline-powered flight. The thought of trying to physique an electrical level was caller and exciting. 

But adjacent though it was a kit, helium said it was a combat coaxing retired each the gremlins.

"The past 3 months was conscionable getting bugs out," said St-Laurent. "At slightest 3 months." 

Ray St-Laurent spent a twelvemonth gathering his electrical plane. (Shane Fowler/CBC News)

The centrifugal comes from a "Zero" motorcycle, a California-based marque of electrical motorcycles. Retrofitting it to powerfulness a level came with immoderate challenges.

For example, the centrifugal primitively has a tilt sensor that automatically cuts the engine if the motorcycle has tipped over. Not overmuch usage successful an aircraft, wherever steeply banking for a crook is simply a portion of a regular flight.

It was 1 of galore frustrating problems that had to beryllium solved.

"There were galore times I was looking for a chainsaw," said St-Laurent. "After I flew a bit, much things happened to it. I spent 2 years getting to a constituent wherever I thought 'OK, present it's reliable.'" 

On the archetypal play of June, the eGull made its longest formation yet, travelling from conscionable extracurricular Fredericton to Woodstock and back. 

And conscionable similar an electrical car, "range anxiety,'" the fearfulness of moving retired of artillery powerfulness earlier reaching your destination oregon the adjacent charging station, is precise real. 

"Range anxiousness squared," said St-Laurent. "You cannot conscionable seashore to the broadside of the road. You've got to seashore to a tract somewhere." 

Wind conditions and upwind play a immense relation successful however acold the eGull tin travel.

St-Laurent said helium utilized 80 per cent of his artillery power to get to Woodstock. He stopped determination to recharge. The travel backmost lone utilized 40 per cent of his charge. 

Ray St-Laurent spent a twelvemonth gathering this all-electric eGull from a kit helium purchased successful the United States. (Shane Fowler/CBC News)

But helium said there's rather a fewer benefits to flying electric. Given the existent substance prices, he's beauteous blessed astir the outgo to alert his plane.

He besides doesn't miss the "stink" of accepted fuel, fixed however adjacent the spot successful an ultralight is to its engine. He doesn't miss the sound and the vibration of a gasoline engine either.

And portion the eGull does inactive marque sound arsenic it flies, St-Laurent said it comes from the propeller cutting done the air, not from the engine.

As acold helium knows it's the lone electrical level successful the area.

"It's not applicable for going anyplace serious," said St-Laurent. "It's conscionable a hobby astatine this point."

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