Airbus Group has announced that it is bringing the first electric airplane into production, the E-Fan 2.0 through its subsidiary, Voltair. The group also announced a factory will be built in Pau, near the Spanish border, at which the aircraft will be assembled.
First deliveries of this innovative aircraft are scheduled for late 2017 or early 2018. The E-Fan 2.0 will be a two seat model aimed at the flight training market, with a second model, the E-Fan 4.0, a four seat touring model, on the drawing board.
The E-Fan demonstrator, shown in the photo above, has been flying since 2014, as seen here.
This comes on the heels of a recent announcement from Siemens earlier this week that they have developed a new type of electric motor for aircraft that is five times more powerful than previous generation motors. Weighing only about 100 lbs, the motor generates 260kW, the equivalent of a 350 hp conventional engines. The new engine delivers its peak output at 2,500 rpm, and can be used directly for aircraft applications without efficient-sapping reduction gears.
The combination of these new technologies could provide a breakthrough in green flight training. The next ingredient to ensure success may be a lighter weight, longer-lasting nanotechnology battery to provide an improved power to weight ratio over today’s lithium polymer batteries, which with the new technology engine should work quite well. Energy storage and recharging may be the key to success for electric airplanes, and the rate of change in battery technology indicates additional breakthroughs may be possible by the end of the decade.
The dream of an all-electric airplane has now moved past the drawing board into reality. Congratulations Airbus Group.