Airbus Putting E-Fan into Production

Small electric airplanes to hit the market within four years.

Airbus E-Fan

Airbus E-Fan

** Airbus E-Fan**

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.

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