Electric-flight record heralds new era of aviation

IM2016060880CO 300dpi_rszWalter Extra, the famous aerobatics pilot behind the Extra series of aerobatic planes, has set a FAI world record in the new field of Electric-powered planes. Launching from Schwarze Heide Airport near Dinslaken, Germany, on 25 November 2016 he flew a unique, battery-powered plane and climbed to 3,000m in a time of 4mins 22 seconds.

In doing so, he broke the FAI world record for electric-powered planes that weigh between 500kg to 1,000kg.

Remarkably the plane, an Extra 330LE, only made its maiden flight on 24 June this year.

That first flight was called a “technical milestone” by Siemens, the company behind the technology that powers the electric plane.

“This day will change aviation,” Frank Anton, head of eAircraft at Siemens, said at the time. “This is the first time that an electric aircraft in the quarter-megawatt performance class has flown.”

Siemens developed a new type of electric motor that weighs only 50kg but delivers a continuous output of 260 kilowatts to power the Extra aerobatic plane. That is five times more than previous comparable systems.

The new system means that hybrid-electric planes with four or more seats will now be possible.

Flying the plane on its maiden flight and for the record was Walter Extra. An award-winning aerobatic pilot and chief designer and founder of Extra Flugzeugbau, a manufacturer of aerobatic aircraft, Extra gave his name to one of the most popular aerobatics aircraft in the sport.

“I pour my heart, mind and soul into ensuring that each aircraft carrying my name is the very best that it can be,” he has said.

The development, initial flights and new world record point the way to an electric-powered future for some aircraft. The battery technology behind the Extra 330LE is scalable, and some industry figures expect to see electric-powered passenger aircraft carrying up to 100 people on short-haul routes of up to 1,000km by 2030.

In the air and without engine noise the experience is “almost silent” Mr Walter Extra said.

Siemens said that they had partnered with Extra Flugzeugbau because aerobatics planes are “particularly well suited” to taking components to their limit, “testing them and enhancing their design”.

The world record belongs to the group of Electric records for Powered Aeroplanes with a take-off weight of 500kg to 1,000kg.

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Photo credit: www.siemens.com/press

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