Airbus Putting E-Fan into Production

Small electric airplanes to hit the market within four years.

The 2014 Farnborough International Airshow in England could go down as the watershed event that finally validates electric-powered flight after powerhouse Airbus not only flew its E-Fan demonstrator but also announced plans to enter production with two- and four-seat models through a new subsidiary in France called VoltAir.

Airbus initially will target the training market with the E-Fan 2.0 and 4.0 models. The two-seater is due to enter production by the end of 2017 with the four-seat version to follow two years later.

Endurance of the lithium ion battery-powered airplanes is targeted at around 2 hours, a figure that could be nearly doubled with the addition of a range-extending internal combustion engine that would be used for recharging the batteries in flight.

The tandem-seat E-Fan prototype Airbus is flying this week at the Farnborough show in England features two 30kw electric motors connected to a pair of eight-bladed shrouded fans. Airbus is involved in the project with a number of partners in France, including Diamond Aircraft and Daher-Socata. The production two-seater, Airbus says, will feature side-by-side seating.

Eventually Airbus hopes to introduce hybrid-electric powered airliners with the capacity to carry up to 90 passengers.

Watch the Airbus E-Fan fly here.

For more on electric aircraft developments, see our feature story Electric Future from the April issue of Flying.

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