Aircraft

Record-setting electric plane tows glider up into the sky in seconds

Record-setting electric plane ...
After setting two world speed records, the Extra 330LE became the first electric plane to tow a glider
After setting two world speed records, the Extra 330LE became the first electric plane to tow a glider
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The Extra 330LE electric plane towed the type LS8-neo glider up to 600 meters in just 76 seconds
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The Extra 330LE electric plane towed the type LS8-neo glider up to 600 meters in just 76 seconds
After setting two world speed records, the Extra 330LE became the first electric plane to tow a glider
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After setting two world speed records, the Extra 330LE became the first electric plane to tow a glider
The Extra 330LE electric aerobatic plane holds two world speed records
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The Extra 330LE electric aerobatic plane holds two world speed records
The Extra 330LE electric plane towed the type LS8-neo glider up to 600 meters in just 76 seconds
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The Extra 330LE electric plane towed the type LS8-neo glider up to 600 meters in just 76 seconds
The Extra 330LE electric aerobatic plane is powered by a lightweight electric motor that manages to deliver a continuous output of 260 kW
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The Extra 330LE electric aerobatic plane is powered by a lightweight electric motor that manages to deliver a continuous output of 260 kW
The cockpit of the Extra 330LE world speed record holder
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The cockpit of the Extra 330LE world speed record holder

Siemens has just announced that an electric aerobatic plane powered by its latest motor has nabbed two world speed records. The Extra 330LE aircraft is now the fastest e-plane under 1,000 kg, and also – after a few mods – the quickest above 1,000 kg, too. The electric test plane also became the first in the world to tow a glider up into the skies.

The Extra 330LE aerobatic plane powered by the lightweight electric motor announced by Siemens in 2015 made its first flight in July 2016. The motor tips the scales at 50 kg (110 lb) but is reported capable of delivering a continuous output of 260 kW, five time more than comparable propulsion systems.

Before the end of last year, the flying test bed had opened a new page in the record books by setting a new world climb record, winging its way up to 3,000 meters (9.840 ft) in 4 minutes and 22 seconds – a climb velocity of 11.5 meters per second.

On March 23, at the Dinslaken Schwarze Heide airfield in Germany, the Extra 330LE managed to top out at 337.5 km/h (209.7 mph) during its 3 km (1.8 mi) straight line flight, 13.48 km/h faster than the previous record set in 2013. The new record has been officially recognized by the World Air Sports Federation (in the category "Electric airplanes with a take-off weight less than 1,000 kg").

The Extra 330LE electric aerobatic plane holds two world speed records
The Extra 330LE electric aerobatic plane holds two world speed records

The e-plane also clocked a new world record in the "above 1,000 kg" category with a modified configuration, achieving a top speed of 342.86 km/h (213 mph).

But two world speed records clearly weren't enough. The day after setting the speed record, the Extra 330LE took to the skies again – this time towing a type LS8-neo glider, the first time an electric aircraft has been used for such a task. The electric flyer managed to take the glider up to 600 meters (1,968 ft) in just 76 seconds.

There are no current plans to take the test aircraft into series production, but the project collaboration with Airbus that began last April intends to develop hybrid-electric airliners based on scaled up versions of the Siemens electric motor.

Source: Siemens

10 comments
LarryWolf
Way to go Siemens.
MartinVoelker
In Denver, Colorado, the SunFlyer, a two seater solar electric flight trainer plane is about to go into production. It is based on the European project with the single seater Elektra One with a redundant battery pack developed by Austrian company Kreisel Electric. People often can't imagine how heavy batteries could possibly work in an airplane but forget to account for the combined weight of a combustion engine plus fuel at takeoff vs the light weight of an electric motor plus battery. Even at the current point of technology electrical flight works in defined cases. And higher power density for battery in the near future is a given.
Lucrucurvruds
Wow, I would love to fly that plane. My Cessna 172 is so loud, if this plane is as quiet as my Tesla, it will revolutionize flying and its possibilities.
f8lee
Looks great if you need to fly for 3 miles - but what is the overall range?
habakak
The future. No production plans because batteries are still too heavy (not enough energy density) and expensive. But this will change rapidly in the next 5 years and in a decade no one will build recreational ICE powered small planes anymore.
TySequeira
The PERFECT application for an electric plane (at the current point in time).
JonStron
Really Awesome !
Lardo
Were those altitudes reported as AGL or MSL?
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is cool and green. I like the twin electric motor one from Air Bus. There is a neat electric one from the makers of Cri Cri.
Bob
Batteries are the key. It will take a lot to improvement to beat the energy density of fossil fuels. Fantastic performance with severely limited range isn't overly useful.