Airbus to certify electric twin

July 17, 2014

Airbus highlights the flight of the E-Fan at Farnborough on its YouTube channel. The flight starts at 4:10.

Airbus Group plans to certify production versions of its E-Fan electric twin and has a goal of late 2017 entry into service for the two-seater, the company said in a video from Farnborough International Airshow July 14.

The two-seat E-Fan technology demonstrator made its first flight in March. Voltair SAS, an Airbus Group subsidiary, will develop, build, and offer service for the E-Fan 2.0 two-seat trainer and E-Fan 4.0 four seat aircraft, according to a media release. Airbus Group said the E-Fan 2.0 would be “the first all-electric production aircraft in the world certified to international standards by civil airworthiness authorities.”

Airbus Group, formerly EADS, said the E-Fan is a clean-sheet design built specifically for electric propulsion: The landing gear are integrated into the fuselage to reduce drag, for instance. The composite twin was also designed to meet the needs of flight training and flying clubs, including hangar parking space and flight endurance, the company said. Technical data indicates a wingspan of 9.5 meters (about 31 feet), empty weight of 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds), and a cruise speed of 160 kilometers per hour (86 knots). It also has an airframe parachute.

Propulsion is provided by two electric motors with a combined power of 50 kilowatts (67 horseppower), each driving a ducted, variable-pitch fan mounted close to the fuselage. The motors are powered by a series of 250-Volt lithium-ion polymer batteries; the technology demonstrator has an endurance of between 45 minutes and an hour, although the company said that will increase with new batteries with a higher energy density. The E-Fan builds on testing using the electric Cri-Cri aerobatic aircraft.

The E-Fan 4.0, scheduled to be certified after the 2.0, will have a combustion engine within the fuselage to provide extended range or endurance. Final assembly facilities will be located at Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport in France, according to Airbus Group.

Sarah Deener

Sarah Deener | Editor – Web, AOPA

AOPA Editor – Web Sarah Deener has worked for AOPA since 2009 and has been a private pilot since 2011.