Siemens Electric Extra Records Successful Maiden Flight

Siemen’s electric-powered Extra 330LE takes off on its maiden flight in Germany. Siemens

The thought of an Extra 300 tearing up the sky in near total silence is unfathomable to aerobatic fans expecting a routine that's part gyrating airplane and part roaring piston engine. But that was in the old days, before Siemens announced in April it was planning to hitch its new 260 kw electric motor to the popular aerobatic platform.

The German engineering powerhouse this week successfully flew the nearly 2,200-pound Extra 300LE from Schwarze Heide Airport near Dinslaken, Germany, using a Siemens electric motor the company says delivers a continuous power output five times greater than its competitors. The company believes the ability to fly the Extra for even half an hour per charge proves a hybrid-electric aircraft with four or more seats is not far away. The Extra 330LE was created in cooperation with Siemens, Extra Aircraft, MT-Propeller and Pipistrel (battery).

Siemens is determined to establish hybrid-electric propulsion systems as a solid business segment by contributing this new technology to the cooperative electric-aircraft project it began working on with Airbus earlier this year. Believing electric drives are scalable, the two manufacturing giants see the record-setting motor as the basis for developing general aviation airplanes and even regional airliners powered by hybrid-electric propulsion systems.

The motor and batteries in the electric Extra. Siemens

“The first flight of our propulsion system is a milestone on the road to electrification of aviation,” said Siemens chief technology officer Siegfried Russwurm. “To continue this journey successfully, we need disruptive ideas and the courage to take risks.”

Frank Anton, head of eAircraft at Siemens’ central research unit Corporate Technology, said that by 2030 “we expect to see initial aircraft with up to 100 passengers and a range of around 1,000 kilometers.”

Rob MarkAuthor
Rob Mark is an award-winning journalist, business jet pilot, flight instructor, and blogger.

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