Airbus just showed its battery-powered E-Fan 2.0 electric aeroplane to the public for the first time, at England's Farnborough International Airshow. Standing still, it looks like a normal if slightly odd-shaped tiny plane. In the air, though, it seems decidedly abnormal. Where's the noise?
The E-Fan 2.0 is the second generation of Airbus's experimental electric aeroplanes. Like its first-gen forebear, version 2.0 only carries two passengers. The 500kg lightweight has two ducted-fan motors putting out a combined 60kW of power, with 120 lithium-polymer battery cells providing an hour of fly time (and 15 minutes of reserve, just in case). During takeoff, the plane's powered landing gear wheels accelerate it to 60km/h before the fan engines kick in, to save energy and reduce noise.
Pocket-Lint caught video of the E-Fan 2.0 flying around the airshow, and not surprisingly, it's just about as silent as you can get. It's like watching a non-powered glider — one that can take off from a standstill.
The tiny two-passenger flyer is envisioned as a pilot-training aeroplane, and Airbus hopes to bring it to market in 2017. The company is also exploring hybrid aeroplanes, where fuel-burning engines would serve to charge the batteries that would power the electric motors, as Airbus's Dr Jean Botti explains:
Building electric planes to carry airline passengers is a tall order, but with Europe demanding a 75 per cent reduction in aircraft emissions by 2050, Airbus and others have major reasons to push this tech forward. Someday, we could be flying high in the silent skies. [Cnet; Pocket-Lint]