Thinking Tech

Your own electric airplane for the price of a car

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The FlyNano personal aircraft, which takes off and lands on water, is compact and quite speedy.

It has wings and a powerful engine that allows you take to the great blue skies. But just don't call it an airplane -- alright?

The FlyNano personal aircraft, developed by inventor Aki Suokas, recently debuted at the Aero 2011 show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The aircraft, which takes off and lands on water, is compact and quite speedy. It has a wingspan of about 16 feet, a top airspeed of about 90 mph and can travel a distance of up to 43 miles on a full tank of fuel, depending on the model.

However, it doesn't have enough room for passengers or cargo -- but there's a reason for that.

Consisting entirely of a lightweight carbon fiber composite material, the single-seat FlyNano weighs less than 155 pounds, which means it isn't technically considered an airplane and can be operated in some countries or districts without a pilot's license.

In the U.S., the aircraft would probably be classified as a "light-sport aircraft." According to the Federal Aviation Administration, an aircraft is considered light-sport if it has a top speed less than 140 mph, a landing speed less than 52 mph and weighs under 254 pounds.  Pilots would still have to obtain a Sport Aircraft certificate, though the requirements are less stringent than what's needed to fly a plane.

The aircraft comes in three versions:

  • The Series E 200 features a 20kW all-electric engine with a top speed of 87 mph and a range of 25 miles on a full charge.
  • The Series G 240 comes with a 24 bhp petroleum-powered engine that allows for a cruising speed around 80 mph and a range of 44 miles.
  • The Series R 260/300 is a racing model that's equipped with a 35 bhp petroleum-powered engine capable of a 90 mph top speed and a range of 44 miles.

If you'd like your own FlyNano, the company is taking orders and plans to deliver the earliest batches in the summer with the least expensive model starting at $39,000 dollars.

Check out their website at www.flynano.com to learn more.

Photo: FlyNano

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure