[Avionics Today April 25, 2014] Airbus completed the first flight of its electric E-Fan experimental aircraft, which could serve as the prototype for a future hybrid engine regional jet for the French airframe manufacturer.
The E-Fan aircraft concept was first unveiled by Airbus at the 2013 Paris Airshow. Developed in partnership with Safran, the two-seater aircraft is made almost entirely of composite materials and powered by two electric motors and designed for short missions such as pilot training or aerobatics. Currently it can run on its lithium-ion polymer batteries for 30 minutes, which Airbus is looking to extend up to an hour.
During a press conference regarding the E-Fan aircraft in Munich, Airbus Group Chief Technology Officer Jean Botti told reporters he would like to see a prototype for a regional jet version of the aircraft in 2030. Airbus, along with Boeing, currently dominates the market for aircraft that seat more than 150 passengers.
Production of the E-Fan could start by the end of 2017, according to Botti.
“The E-Fan project and Airbus Group’s commitment to the field of electric and hybrid research show our vision of future technological developments," said Botti. “Our focus is to develop innovations that will help define what tomorrow’s aerospace industry will look like."