George Bye, CEO of Bye Energy, located in Greenwood, Colorado, is confident that a hybrid aviation engine that can be a drop-in replacement for aging Lycoming O-360s is on the horizon. He should know, since he is currently up to his elbows in the development of just such an engine.
Bye, a Lindbergh Foundation Grant recipient, spoke about his plans in the Green Space at Sun 'n Fun on Lindbergh Foundation Day.
The Green Flight Project is working on a demonstration prototype that hopes to prove that electric hybrid propulsion is safe, viable and economical – reducing cost, noise and CO2 impact from aircraft. "I think that our culture has accepted alternative powered vehicles much more quickly than anyone might have imagined," Bye said. "The Prius is the best-selling car in Japan, for instance."
Bye and his technology partners are leveraging knowledge gained from these vehicles and working to transfer it to aviation. "We want to move our industry forward, too," he said. "We're actually working on mockups and hardware now, and we are hoping to be flying the engine in a two-seat trainer proof-of-concept airplane, some mainstream airframe, by year's end. We hope to see this engine as a drop-in replacement for Cessnas, Pipers and even Cirrus aircraft." There may be some RV-6, -7 and -9 owners interested in this technology as well.