Everybody know Airbus planes… huge flying machines that soar through the sky! But the latest gem developed by the France-based company is a small two-seater plane that is battery powered.
It is all part of the Airbus quest to develop electric aircraft that will ultimately be silent and free from CO2 – or at least relatively so.
E-Fan 2.0 the Electric Plane Prototype
The key element in their goal for a quiet aircraft that will be totally free of harmful emissions is the E-Fan, a demonstrator aircraft launched at a high-profile English airshow last year (2016). Weighing in at just 500 kg (1,100 lbs) the good-looking little E-Fan 2.0 thrilled the crowds at the Farnborough Air Show mid year.
The new electric flying machine has dual motors with power totaling 60kW, and they drive two ducted fans that have blades with a pitch that is adjustable. The fans are mounted inside ducts so that the noise is decreased. Because this also increases the thrust of the fans, power efficiency is improved during takeoff.
The 120-cell lithium polymer battery enables a one-hour flight. The battery is cooled passively so that it relies on air rather than a powered cooling system that could overheat as they discharge power.
While not quite practical yet, Airbus has much more ambitious plans looking forward.
First Production Airbus Electric Planes Available This Year
The company has stated it will invest some €20 million in the design and development of this exciting new electric aircraft. Late 2017 has been pinpointed as the time for launching its first production planes, initially intended for pilot training. Soon after this, a slightly bigger electric plane aimed at the general aviation market will be produced. This will have sufficient space for four passengers.
While the prototype seen at Farnborough had two seats positioned one in front of the other, the production planes will have seats that are positioned alongside one another.
Futuristic “Intelligent” Factory Built for Assembly of Airbus Parts and Electric Planes
The factory site for the new E-fan 2.0 is in the south west of France at Pau Pyrénées Airport within the French Aerospace Valley. The specially designed facility measures 1,500 square meters and has a wonderfully sleek and futuristic design style. It also utilizes innovative manufacturing techniques intended to validate new aviation processes and technologies that Airbus aims to use across all its divisions.
Intelligent concepts the company envisions include:
- A seriously compact assembly floor that will reduce “distance” during build-up of aircraft.
- A new definition of the processes used that focus on quality, continuity, and the management and control taken by those operating the assembly line.
- Application of lean production procedures that have been designed to eliminate wastage.
In spite of this high tech scenario, Airbus has stated that its E-fan 2.0 production plane will have operating costs that will total only a third of traditional piston-engine light aircraft. The aircraft will also focus primarily on the needs of users.
Airbus Parts and Airbus Service
While Airbus parts required for the new electric planes are different to those currently used in Airbus helicopters and jet planes, Prime Industries remains a primary supplier. If you need parts or components for your Airbus, have a look at our comprehensive inventory, or contact us for more information.