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Step forward the E-Fan, an electric plane designed to do aerobatics

elec-planeThis is a technology that seems to have crept up on me when I was not looking.  I had not realized that electric planes had come this far.  I still thought of them as being ultra-light, fragile, underpowered things, but this one even does aerobatics.  It’s the E-Fan, produced by Didier Esteyne in collaboration with EADS, and its specifications are impressive.  Unusually it uses ducted fan propulsion instead of the normal exposed propellers driven by electric motors.  Cleverly there is a small additional electric motor in the landing gear that can let it taxi to 35 mph without using the main thrust engines.  It has multi-cell lithium ion battery packs in each wing root, giving it about an hour’s flying time at 110 mph, but it is also designed to do loops and barrel rolls, and aerobatics halve its flying time.  It’s still lightweight at 1,212 pounds, but this is undoubtedly a serious plane.  I can’t wait to see this technology taken further, perhaps with a range of electric business aircraft.  Serious it may be, but it still looks like it might be a great deal of fun to fly.

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