Manned electric-powered aircraft have made record-breaking flights and turned more than a few heads in the past few years, and it's not a trend that's likely to slow down. Last week (2013,) the E-Fan electric trainer airplane developed by the Airbus Group made its first public flight before a collection of French dignitaries. Currently a demonstrator for electric aircraft technology, Airbus says that is will be used as the basis for building a new pair of electric training aircraft models.
Built with an all-composite construction, the E-fan is 6.7 m (22 ft) long and has a wingspan of 9.5 m (31 ft). From the outside, it almost looks like a toy jet aircraft with a pair of nacelles that aren't jets, but two ducted, variable pitch fans spun by two electric motors with a combined power of 60 kW. The ducting increases the thrust while reducing noise, and by centrally mounting them, the fans provide better control.
A key technology on the E-Fan is its E-FADEC energy management system, which automatically handles the electrical systems. According to Airbus, this simplifies system controls and, since E-Fan is a trainer, eases the workload of instructors and students.
Powering the fans are a series of 250 V lithium-ion polymer batteries made by KOKAM of the Republic of Korea. These batteries are mounted in the inboard section of the wings and carry enough charge for up to one hour of flight and can be recharged in one hour. For those worried about the “recharge” light coming on while up in the air, there’s also a backup battery on-board for emergency landings.
Source: Airbus Group