The all-electric aircraft from Airbus, the E-Fan, will attempt to cross the English Channel from Lydd to Calais this Friday (July 10th), reversing Louis Blériot’s historic feat from over 100 years ago. It will be an exciting moment for all of us who have high hopes for the future of electric aircraft.
If successful, the attempt will be the longest-ever manned 100% electric flight – it is expected to take 38 minutes to cover the 22 mile crossing.
Last month the E-Fan was one of the big draws at The Paris Air Show. The biennial event offers a wealth of aviation sights and sounds. And the E-Fan’s demo flight may have been one of the quietest (it makes very little noise at all) but it was certainly one of the most important – in terms of future potential.
European aviation giant Airbus is behind the E-Fan, and with such a major manufacturer involved, the prospect of electric aircraft is a very exciting one. Both in terms of environmental and commercial potential. Airbus estimate the E-Fan will be 30% cheaper to run than a similar-sized fuel-powered aircraft.
The biggest challenge is in battery manufacture. Currently the aircraft has a range of just 45 minutes, and a max speed of 220km per hour – not really enough to give it commercial potential. But Airbus engineers are working hard on the challenge of how to extend this capability in this aircraft – and also how to power bigger ones, by making the electric batteries more efficient and more productive.
Electric vehicles on the ground
Of course electric vehicles are already available on the ground and are rapidly becoming a more viable mode of ground transport.
So here’s how the E-Fan compares to one of the most advanced electric cars: the Model S 85 D Tesla.
What next for the E-Fan?
Initially the E-Fan is planned for use as a training aircraft for flying schools.
A larger E-Fan 4.0 is planned for 2019, and Airbus intend for this to be a viable 4-seat commercial aircraft.
And Airbus is already planning a 90-seat regional airliner that can fly with all-electric or hybrid propulsion by 2050.
So good luck to the E-Fan team for this Friday’s historic flight. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can offer an electric aircraft for private charter.
In the meantime, for more information on aircraft currently available for hire, contact our Flight Team (24 hours) on +44 1747 642 777.