Airbus Group’s all-electric E-Fan aircraft completes historic Channel crossing

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Airbus Group s E-Fan technology demonstrator became the world s first all-electric two engine aircraft taking off by its own power to successfully cross the Channel on 10 July 2015, some 106 years after Louis Bleriot s epic flight.Here just before landing in Calais.
Airbus Group s E-Fan technology demonstrator became the world s first all-electric two engine aircraft taking off by its own power to successfully cross the Channel on 10 July 2015, some 106 years after Louis Bleriot s epic flight.Here just before landing in Calais.

Airbus Group’s E-Fan technology demonstrator today became the world’s first all-electric two engine aircraft taking off by its own power to successfully cross the Channel, some 106 years after Louis Blériot’s epic flight. The E-Fan’s flight of 74 kilometres [46 miles] between Lydd, England, and Calais in France was completed in 36 minutes.

The E-Fan is powered by lithium-ion batteries, which offer an increased battery capacity of 60 percent compared to the aircraft’s original configuration. Flown by test pilot Didier Esteyne, the E-Fan weighs around 600 kilogrammes [1,320 pounds] and travelled at a maximum altitude of about 1,000 metres [3,500 feet].

Louis Blériot was one of the most famous aviation pioneers of his time. He performed the Channel crossing on 25 July 1909 in his Blériot XI, an aircraft that not only became the record–breaking aeroplane of 1909 and 1910, but also the first aircraft to be put into mass production and launch France’s aviation industry. Bleriot’s company was based in Suresnes, near Paris, at the same site where part of the E-Fan team is now located.

The E-Fan project and today’s historic Channel crossing show that the pioneering spirit and ingenuity demonstrated by Louis Blériot and the other early aviators is still alive today. The 10th of July 2015 will now join the list of famous days in aviation history and I’m sure Blériot would be proud of this achievement,” said Jean Botti, Airbus Group Chief Technical Officer. “We continue to embody the spirit of innovation and tackle technical challenges which both advance aerospace as we know it today and pioneer the next generation of electric and hybrid flight,” added Jean Botti.

Calais, 10 July 2015

1 COMMENT

  1. Great, but…: Airbus was beaten by a solo Frenchman across Channel in electric plane

    An attempt by Airbus to make history by crossing the English Channel in an electric plane ended in wounded pride on Friday after a French pilot claimed to have beaten it by hours.

    In a further twist, a Slovenian businessman said he might have beaten both of them earlier in the week if he hadn’t been robbed of his chance of glory.

    In a contest that echoed the cloak-and-dagger rivalries of aviation’s early pioneers, it was Frenchman Hugues Duval, 35, who emerged on top by secretly crossing the Channel in both directions in his one-seater Cri-Cri, launched off the top of another plane on Thursday evening.

    “We crossed the Channel before Airbus. The only way I could do this was to hide and do it with the utmost discretion,” he told Reuters.

    That came more than 12 hours before Didier Esteyne piloted an Airbus E-Fan across the Channel from Lydd, in Kent, to land on French soil in Calais on Friday, watched by dozens of journalists and VIPs.

    The E-Fan flight took the opposite direction from Louis Bleriot’s first heavier-than-air crossing in 1909. Airbus’s aim was to highlight the promise of electric flight, which it says could ultimately produce a 100-seat regional passenger plane.

    Airbus gamely conceded defeat to the Cri-Cri, with its chief technology officer Jean Botti telling reporters, “It’s not a victory but a start…the start of a great innovation.”

    Privately, however, Airbus officials said Duval’s tiny one-seater, weighing just 70kg (154 lb) and built by a small team in Brittany, was too small to be considered an airplane. They also grumbled at the fact it had been catapulted by another plane.

    Adding further intrigue, Slovenian entrepreneur Ivo Boscarol said his own attempt to cross the Channel in a Pipistrel electric plane even earlier in the week was thwarted when Germany’s Siemens abruptly took away its engine, saying it was not certified over water.

    “History is always about who is first and nobody is interested in the second or third,” Boscarol told Reuters. “That is it and life must go on.”

    Siemens said it had only acted out of concerns for safety and denied any link between the decision and its role in helping to verify the design of the Airbus E-Fan’s twin engines.

    Boscarol said he would continue to work with the German company, noting that the research could bring serious business opportunities including in the field of pilot training.

    The contest in the skies above the Channel took place 75 years to the day after the Battle of Britain, the epic air contest between the British and German air forces in World War Two.

    “The Channel, especially for French and English pilots, has a special place on the pedestal like flights over the Atlantic. It has a kind of religious prestige,” Boscarol said.

    (from Reuters)

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