The First Electric Flight Finally Takes Place

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Extra Aircraft recently registered the first flight of its electrically-powered aerobatic aircraft. The motor for this special aircraft came from Siemens. Siemens introduced this motor in year 2015. It weighs some 50 kilograms and generates power worth 260 kilowatts. This combination results into an unparalleled power-to-weight ratio. However, it is not the only reason behind our fascination for this project, apart from being a historic accomplishment this one registered a huge success for Siemens. The company engineers were not only able to design the motor but were also able to install the complete powertrain in the Extra 330LE, the two-seater aircraft.

Frank Anton, a member of Corporate Technology Siemens’ central research and development department, quotes, “This flight is a milestone in the history of electric aviation drives.” Anton and his team were successful in developing the first electric airplane that gave an output equivalent to the one-fourth of a megawatt airborne. These kind of power figures were obtained in reference to the European Aviation Safety Agency.

The flight took off from an airfield located in north-central Germany near the beautiful town called Hunxe. The total duration of flight was somewhere near ten minutes after which it came down to surface safely and successfully. The plane underwent all kind of tests making Siemens motor a worthy contender for all kind of medium-level power requirements in airplanes. As the company founder of Extra, Walter Extra, likes to comment, “ We’re proud that one of our aerobatic aircraft has flown for the first time on an electric motor.”

Lately, Siemens has shown deep interest in aerobatic aircrafts. These kind of airplanes are pretty well-suited for testing of all kinds of electric drive systems. The reason being its ability to pull the power train up to its limits while the aircraft is in air and make acute accelerations over all three axes. It is expected that in coming times, this plane will set a benchmarks for analysis and refinement of electric aircraft components. The one we are talking about here sports an SP260D electric motor along with a Siemens inventor along with battery blocks from a Slovenian company, Pipistrel. The project was taken care of with subsidies offered from German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy under their German Aviation Research Program. The drive installation included a number of conditions that needed to be met, as Anton explains the constraints, “One condition was that it must be a very robust machine in the category of fully certified aircraft that can carry as much weight as possible.” The single solution to this requirement was a production aircraft loaded with a tubular lattice frame that was designed to make installation of components easier and smoother.