Video: Airbus Flies Electric Airplane

E-Fan demonstrator tests battery technology.

We recently told you about Airbus’s ambitious plans for the VoltAir concept, a proposed electric-powered airliner that could take to the skies within 20 years — that vision is one step closer to reality with the successful flight test of a prototype electric airplane, called the E-Fan, in Bordeaux, France, that Airbus says was built to prove key electric propulsion technologies.

The E-Fan is a composite, tandem two-seater with a pair of ducted fans on the tail powered by individual electric motors and lithium polymer batteries in the wings. Airbus says it hopes to use hybrid electric engines in regional airliners with seating for between 70 and 80 passengers. Depeleted battery packs would be replaced with fresh ones at the gate, similar to the loading of baggage.

The E-Fan uses a pair of electric-driven fans with a total combined power output of 60kw or the equivalent of about 80 horsepower, providing endurance of around 30 minutes. Airbus hopes to increase that figure to more than an hour.

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

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