Aircraft

E-Fan 2.0 makes podium appearance at Le Bourget

E-Fan 2.0 makes podium appeara...
A full scale static mock up of the E-Fan 2.0 electric pilot training aircraft on display at the Paris Air Show
A full scale static mock up of the E-Fan 2.0 electric pilot training aircraft on display at the Paris Air Show
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The Primary Flight Display of the Connected Cockpit will be supplemented by a tablet-like device that will allow the pilot to prepare a flight plan away from the E-Fan 2.0 and then plug it into the instrument panel to act as the navigation and training display
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The Primary Flight Display of the Connected Cockpit will be supplemented by a tablet-like device that will allow the pilot to prepare a flight plan away from the E-Fan 2.0 and then plug it into the instrument panel to act as the navigation and training display
Airbus has revealed plans for an upcoming 1,500 sq m (16,000 sq ft) E-Fan production facility located at Pau Pyrénées Airport in the southwest of France, within the country's so-called "Aerospace Valley"
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Airbus has revealed plans for an upcoming 1,500 sq m (16,000 sq ft) E-Fan production facility located at Pau Pyrénées Airport in the southwest of France, within the country's so-called "Aerospace Valley"
Artist's impression of the E-Fan 2.0 and the E-Fan 4.0
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Artist's impression of the E-Fan 2.0 and the E-Fan 4.0
The E-Fan's batteries can be found in the inboard section of the wings, catering for ventilation and passive cooling
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The E-Fan's batteries can be found in the inboard section of the wings, catering for ventilation and passive cooling
The first E-Fan 2.0 is set to make its maiden flight in late 2017, followed by the series aircraft rolling out to customers the following year
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The first E-Fan 2.0 is set to make its maiden flight in late 2017, followed by the series aircraft rolling out to customers the following year
A full scale static mock up of the E-Fan 2.0 electric pilot training aircraft on display at the Paris Air Show
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A full scale static mock up of the E-Fan 2.0 electric pilot training aircraft on display at the Paris Air Show
Designed for basic pilot training, the E-Fan 2.0 has a 10.98 m (36 ft) wingspan, is 5.67 m (18.6 ft) from nose to tail and is under 2 m at its highest point
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Designed for basic pilot training, the E-Fan 2.0 has a 10.98 m (36 ft) wingspan, is 5.67 m (18.6 ft) from nose to tail and is under 2 m at its highest point
The production versions of the E-Fan aircraft will come in two-seat all electric pilot training and hybrid electric motor/combustion engine versions
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The production versions of the E-Fan aircraft will come in two-seat all electric pilot training and hybrid electric motor/combustion engine versions
As with the original, the ducted fans on the E-Fan 2.0 will be positioned toward the center line
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As with the original, the ducted fans on the E-Fan 2.0 will be positioned toward the center line
The original E-Fan plane, now called version 1.0, evolved from the electric Cri Cri flying laboratory project
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The original E-Fan plane, now called version 1.0, evolved from the electric Cri Cri flying laboratory project
Between flights, the E-Fan demonstrator was on static display at the Paris Air Show
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Between flights, the E-Fan demonstrator was on static display at the Paris Air Show
A look inside the cockpit of the E-Fan at the Paris Air Show
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A look inside the cockpit of the E-Fan at the Paris Air Show
Work on the new all-electric, battery-powered two-seater pilot training aircraft will be undertaken by Voltair SAS
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Work on the new all-electric, battery-powered two-seater pilot training aircraft will be undertaken by Voltair SAS
As with the original, the ducted fans on the E-Fan 2.0 will be positioned toward the center line
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As with the original, the ducted fans on the E-Fan 2.0 will be positioned toward the center line
The majestic E-fan demonstrator simply couldn't be heard when flying over Le Bourget
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The majestic E-fan demonstrator simply couldn't be heard when flying over Le Bourget
The E-Fan electric aircraft has a cruising speed of 160 km/h
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The E-Fan electric aircraft has a cruising speed of 160 km/h
The E-Fan demonstrator turns toward the crowds at the Paris Air Show
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The E-Fan demonstrator turns toward the crowds at the Paris Air Show
A model of the upcoming E-Fan 2.0 hangs above the Zodiac Aerospace booth at the Paris Air Show
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A model of the upcoming E-Fan 2.0 hangs above the Zodiac Aerospace booth at the Paris Air Show

When we first covered the news of the E-Fan's first public flight, Airbus was only showing an artist's impression of what the production model of the two-seater electric demonstrator could look like. But this year the company had a full-sized version on display at the 51st Paris Air Show. In addition to straining our ears to listen to hear the original aircraft in the air above Le Bourget, we got the opportunity to rub shoulders with the sleek and sexy E-Fan 2.0 electric pilot trainer.

The original E-Fan plane, now called version 1.0, evolved from the electric Cri Cri flying laboratory project and allowed engineers to get a hands-on feel for work in this burgeoning area of research and development. The design of the new demonstrator aircraft began in late 2011. It was unveiled at the 50th Paris Air Show in 2013, made its maiden flight a few months later and has since made appearances in the air above the Farnborough and ILA Berlin air shows.

The E-Fan electric aircraft has a cruising speed of 160 km/h
The E-Fan electric aircraft has a cruising speed of 160 km/h

Two electric motors, 32 kW each, drive a pair of ducted, variable pitch fans positioned toward the center line of the carbon fiber composite body, which quickly and quietly get the E-Fan to a takeoff speed of 110 km/h (68 mph), 160 km/h cruising speed and a top speed of over 200 km/h. The aircraft also has an electrically-driven aft main wheel to taxi and assist with acceleration during takeoff.

Its 29 kWh Li-ion 18650 batteries can be found in the inboard section of the wings (catering for ventilation and passive cooling) and offer from 45 minutes to an hour of flight time per charge, with the design also allowing for battery pack hotswaps. Electrical system management is undertaken by a full authority digital control (e-FADEC) system to reduce pilot workload.

Much of what the Airbus Group has learned over the last few years will be incorporated into the "world's first series production electric planes" – the E-Fan 2.0 and 4.0 aircraft. Work on the new all-electric, battery-powered two-seater pilot training flavor and the four person hybrid electric motor/combustion engine version will be undertaken by Voltair SAS, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Airbus, which will also offer post-production services.

Airbus has revealed plans for an upcoming 1,500 sq m (16,000 sq ft) E-Fan production facility located at Pau Pyrénées Airport in the southwest of France, within the country's so-called "Aerospace Valley"
Airbus has revealed plans for an upcoming 1,500 sq m (16,000 sq ft) E-Fan production facility located at Pau Pyrénées Airport in the southwest of France, within the country's so-called "Aerospace Valley"

Both aircraft will be built at an upcoming 1,500 sq m (16,000 sq ft) facility located at Pau Pyrénées Airport in the southwest of France, within the country's so-called "Aerospace Valley."

Construction of the E-Fan assembly line is expected to begin next year. The first E-Fan 2.0 is set to make its maiden flight in late 2017, followed by the series aircraft rolling out to customers the year after. An initial production rate of 10 aircraft per year has been targeted, with the facility capable of growth depending on market demand.

The Airbus Group has committed to investing €20 million (about US$22 million) in the development of the E-Fan 2.0 production aircraft, and will be pitching for CS-LSA certification to international civil airworthiness standards with a maximum take-off weight of under 600 kg.

Designed for basic pilot training, it has a 10.98 m (36 ft) wingspan, is 5.67 m (18.6 ft) from nose to tail and is under 2 m at its highest point. The aircraft will feature side-by-side instructor/student seating in what Airbus is calling a Connected Cockpit, where the Primary Flight Display will be supplemented by a tablet-like device that will allow the pilot to prepare a flight plan away from the E-Fan 2.0 and then plug it into the instrument panel to act as the navigation and training display. Data recorded during the flight can be retrieved from the tablet later for evaluation, logging or training purposes.

The Primary Flight Display of the Connected Cockpit will be supplemented by a tablet-like device that will allow the pilot to prepare a flight plan away from the E-Fan 2.0 and then plug it into the instrument panel to act as the navigation and training display
The Primary Flight Display of the Connected Cockpit will be supplemented by a tablet-like device that will allow the pilot to prepare a flight plan away from the E-Fan 2.0 and then plug it into the instrument panel to act as the navigation and training display

Airbus is looking to use new higher density batteries for its production version electric airplanes and says that the ground-based charging station will bring them to capacity in 1.5 hours. Instructors and students can then expect a good hour in the air between charges, with a 30 minute reserve just in case an emergency landing needs to be undertaken.

At this time, there's little solid information available on the four-seat hybrid airplane, where the combustion engine will be used to extend the range of the aircraft. The E-Fan 4.0 is being developed for full pilot license training and the general aviation market and the Airbus Group is currently eyeing a production window of 2019.

The video below outlines some of the thinking behind the development of the E-Fan electric aircraft, and be sure to check the gallery for photos of the existing technology demonstrator and a static full scale mock up of the upcoming pilot training aircraft at the Paris Air Show.

Source: Airbus Group

E-Fan: Contributing to Europe’s environmental protection goals

12 comments
guzmanchinky
Wow, as a private pilot, I would LOVE to have something like this, but only an hour flight time is realistically too short. I've personally run into situations where the destination airport goes IFR and then you have to get somewhere else further away, and running low on batteries would be one heck of a bad day...
Paul Friedrich
potential for a defense application is huge. What about vectoring the engines and adding a vertical lift motor in front [ala F35]?
Eddy
What a dangerous concept with the present capacity of batteries. I would never use a plane that only had such a short flight time. They don't seem to have factored in weather causing last minute diversions when our most common flight time of 1 hr is up. Do they have the aircraft parachute system built in?
Sven Ollino
Eddy, these are trainers first and foremost. They make perfect sense for that: very short flight times around the airport, lots of airtime, very low maintenance(1/3 op-ex). Rated charging time is 1.5 hours for 2.0 and 4.0 models. If the provide neither high C fast charging chemistry batteries nor swap-able packs then it's dead on arrival however.
habakak
This is great, and the future. Batteries will get more energy dense and in 5 years this plane could go 1.5 hours or more on the same volume/weight battery. Planes are so noisy and this will be so much better. And potentially safer.
vblancer
You would not catch me flying this thing. As fast as my Cherokee but with a realistic flight time closer to 1/2 hour leaving a 15 min reserve it is extremely short of time. I do not know about now but all my instruction flights were at LEAST 1 hour. I would be afraid to leave sight of the pattern in this thing and even then 1/2 hour (reserves MUST be kept) is too short to effectively train pilots. Many airports with training have near by (10 miles or so) "practice areas" and by the time you took off and left the pattern we are talking 10-15 minutes of "practice"!! A pretty plane but a pretty stupid idea. I have had airports shut down due to problems on the ground and without enough range to get to another airport you are SCREWED! This goes against anything I was taught as a student pilot. In many areas it would take the entire range of this plane to even REACH another airport and that is if you headed there on takeoff. Come back after 1/2 hour training flight (which is not enough) and find a closed airport where are you going to go? I hope these things come with ballistic parachutes for the aircraft because as is they will be raining from the sky!!
Stephen N Russell
Love idea, but leery of battery range IE plane loses power & makes forced landing. Or runs into bad weather. Otherwise Yes
hhahark
What do you mean by "world's first series production electric planes"?!? There is a company from Slovenia, it is called Pipistrel. They have an electric plane in a serial production for several years now. It is called Taurus Electro. And you can fly for more than one hour :-) And they are preparing for a serial production for yet another electric airplane for flight schools Alpha Electro (1h + 0.5h reserve). So please, check the market before writing.
BernieD
The Fans molded in the fuselage is a mistake. Next year they will come out with better and more efficient ones that you can’t just bolt on. Auxiliary droppable fuel cells rather than weight added to the body would make more sense to me. No body modifications as battery technology changed. If you bought this and batteries that are lighter got slightly larger you would be screwed. Something more resembling an A-10 would be more practical and be in the air longer. The article didn’t say how much power was consumed during takeoff.
KatrinaWawrzynczak
I love the concept, but the ranges they are talking about are atrocious. My flight school (like most private aviators in the country) uses a 45 minute reserve. Our lessons range from 0.8 to 1.1 hours, typically, with some extra time for ground handling. Granted, an electric aircraft wouldn't need to run the engines at all while on the ground (especially with a motor for the wheels) but this would still never work. A 1.1 hour lesson + time spent on ground + needing a 45 minute reserve puts our minimum range requirements into the 2+ hour range, just to be able to do '1 hour' lessons. As for actually flying anywhere in such an aircraft, there are very few destinations within this country you could meaningfully get to in an hour, especially at those kind of speeds...