The electric vehicle is in. Tesla did it with high-end cars and now Airbus is doing it with planes.
“We have reached the next milestone in our Airbus Group E-Aircraft roadmap. The industrialization of our E-Fan aircraft will help us to advance electric flight and also to gain experience to scale up the technology,” says Airbus Group CTO Jean Botti.
Don’t expect an electric Superjumbo by the end of the week, though: the E-Fan 2.0 will be closer in size to a Tesla than an A380. This all-electric airplane is a two-seat training tool, as well as proof of concept that battery-powered flight has a real future.
The E-Fan turned heads at Popular Science, where it won the Best of What’s New award for aerospace in 2014, because, like Tesla did with the electric car, Airbus made it hot.
A demonstrator version of the E-Fan aircraft has already been built and flown: it debuted at the Paris Air Show in 2013. Check it out:
Production versions of the E-Fan 2.0 are expected to muster on the runway by the end of 2017.
Airbus is building a final assembly line for the E-Fan 2.0 in Pau, Southwest France. The region is thrilled because the E-Fan assembly plant will create jobs. Airbus is happy because they’re getting electric planes. Your lungs will be happy once the emerging technology makes it onto passenger planes.
More Power to You
Airbus is blazing trails in electric-powered avionics as smaller and more efficient batteries make storing electricity more viable. Aside from those drool-worthy electric cars, Tesla has unveiled Powerwall, a surprisingly sexy power storage system meant to wean your home off of the electric grid. The better we get at storing power locally, the more we can rely on renewable energy sources that operate on their own schedules: Mother Nature does not share her calendar with us.
The sooner the technologies driving avionics and power storage converge, the closer we get to an airline industry driven by the wind and the sun. Now, isn’t that a breath of fresh air?