E-Fan Electric Airplane Will Go On Sale In Late 2017

MAY 22 2015 BY MARK KANE 47

Airbus Group’s E-Fan

Airbus Group’s E-Fan

Airbus Group confirmed production plans for electric aircraft E-Fan 2.0 from late 2017 or early 2018.

The company will invest €20 million in the overall design and development of the E-Fan 2.0 aircraft, while the rest will comes from partners and government support.

The aircraft will be manufactured by subsidiary Voltair in a new plant, for which construction is scheduled to begin in 2016 in Pau in the southwest of France.

Initial production volume will be small, and should grow to some 80 units annually by 2025.

“Voltair will also be in charge of selling and providing services like maintenance for the E-Fan aircraft. Airbus Group will invest € 20 million in the overall design and development of the E-Fan 2.0 aircraft, in addition to contributions from Airbus Group’s partners. The consortium is supported by La Nouvelle France Industrielle. The Aquitaine region is also supporting the project through a regional subsidy and the FEDER (Le Fonds Européen de Développement Regional) investment for a total of € 2.25 million. Pau, which is already a regional centre for the aeronautics industry in France, was chosen as it is located close to design partner Daher and offers direct access to the runway, a medium size airport and good meteorological conditions. The purchase of the site from the current owner is due to be signed by mid-year 2015 with construction works for the FAL scheduled to start in the middle of 2016. The targeted goal for entry-into-service of the first E-Fan 2.0 is around the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018. E-Fan 2.0 is a key project in the industrial plans launched by the French government in 2013.”

“Airbus Group will bring its electric technical demonstrator aircraft, E-Fan, into serial production with the E-Fan 2.0, a two-seater version dedicated to initial pilot training. Airbus Group’s E-Fan project started in 2012 with an intensive development phase of more than 12 months. The demonstrator aircraft was first presented at the Paris Air Show in 2013. Since its first flight on 11 March 2014, the E-Fan has performed more than 78 test flights with more than 38 flight hours in total.”

Jean Botti, Airbus Group CTO said:

“We have reached the next milestone in our Airbus Group E-Aircraft roadmap. The industrialisation of our E-Fan aircraft will help us to advance electric flight and also to gain experience to scale up the technology. With this new assembly line, Airbus Group is preparing for the future and creating new jobs and business in the Aquitaine region.”

Here are some older videos from test flights:

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47 Comments on "E-Fan Electric Airplane Will Go On Sale In Late 2017"

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Ricardo
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Ricardo

Dear Santa…

alain
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alain

hahahahahhaha metoo!

Anthony
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Anthony

I’ve done some simple spreadsheet math. Commercial jets won’t go electric anytime soon. The first that will go are the 50, 70, and 90 seat regional jets. Those make a lot sense because they’re barely profitable in their current state of low fuel efficiency , and replacing fuel with electricity.

Speculawyer
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Speculawyer

I can’t imagine any commercial electric aircraft unless there is a massive battery breakthrough. I just don’t see the energy density being there.

Little toy private planes for 2 or 4 people can work. And they have the advantage that electric motors are much more reliable than ICE. But bigger planes? I dunno.

electric-car-insider.com
Guest

> Little toy private planes…

Why be deprecating about personal transportation vehicles that can travel at 100-350 mph above the fray of traffic?

Speculawyer
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Speculawyer

I just use the word ‘toy’ to indicate the very small size relative to commercial airliners that carry large numbers of passengers.

And except for places like Alaska, people don’t fly small planes for personal transport. It is very uneconomical and inefficient. They fly small planes because it is fun. So in a way, they really are ‘toys’. But that is not a value judgment . . . every needs and should have some toys whether they be videogames, home theatre set-ups, small airplanes, fishing boats, etc.

Electric-Car-Insider.com
Guest

> people don’t fly small planes for personal transport

What information do you base that information on?

It is definitely more fun to fly than to drive, and less stressful. But any point A to B travel, whether for business or vacation would definitely be considered transport. Flights taking off and returning to the same airport might be considered “for fun” but training flights, pipeline and agriculture patrol, aerial
photography etc are generally not considered to be “for fun” for regulatory or tax purposes.

scott franco, the evil, greedy republican
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scott franco, the evil, greedy republican
“people don’t fly small planes for personal transport. It is very uneconomical and inefficient.” Airplanes are inherently more efficient than cars. They get equivalent or better gas milage[1], and fly point to point, including over mountains and seas. Engines in airplanes are inherently more efficient, because they run at constant speed vs. start and stop. This factor alone made turboprops and jets possible in airplanes, and not cars. The “highway” capacity of airplanes is virtually infinite, and those highways can be “constructed” at zero cost. As the AOPA is fond of saying, a mile of pavement in a car gets you one mile. A mile of pavement for an airplane, in the form of a runway, can take you anywhere in the world. Airplane do FAR less ecological damage because of this fact. A simple airport in a national park can replace miles and miles of ecological damage in the form of roads. Todays aircraft are better equipped than ever. We fly moving GPS maps. We get continuous displays of where all other aircraft are compared to our location. We get real time weather maps and information in air. Self driving cars are in development? Airplanes have been capable of… Read more »
Anthony
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I did factor in breakthroughs, not necessarily “big” ones though. Solid State Lithium batteries – 800Wh/kg, 1500Wh/l. Take an existing ERJ 190 sized A/C, replace the weight of the fuel and the tanks with battery cells, wiring, etc. For about 12,500kg of cells (10MWh), you’d get 2:30 of flight time (+45 mins for FAA FAR 121 regs, so 3:15 total). Most of the energy is used on takeoff (160kN thrust, requiring 6.5MW for 45 minutes to climb to cruise, or about 5MWh) and the rest is used at cruise and descent. Most RJ flights are probably less than 2.5 hours – I surely don’t want to sit on one for longer than that! I think its possible that those smaller aircraft with flight times under 3 hours could be replaced. This also makes RJs more economical to operate since electricity will be roughly 1/4 the price of jet fuel. Maybe they can finally pay their pilots a reasonable salary! The hardest part will be “refueling” at the gate between flights. You’re looking at a 4-5C charge rate to get the batteries full again in a 45 minute turn (50MW initially, tapering off to 5MW as it hits 20%). You’ll need… Read more »
Koz
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Koz

Battery swap at the gate.

Doggydogworld
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Doggydogworld

Anthony, how did you get 6.5 MW for ERJ 190 climb? At a typical climb speed of 130 m/s:

160 kN * 130 m/s = 20.8 MW

I also come up with about 3x your battery requirement for 2.5 hour cruise with 45 minute reserve.

BraveLilToaster
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BraveLilToaster

Their low fuel efficiency is precisely why they won’t be replaced by electrics anytime soon.

Jouni Valkonen
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Jouni Valkonen

Anthony, did take into consideration that electric jets can have 40 to 60 km fligh altitude and mach four to five cruising speed? As atmosphere is very thin up there, there is very little air drag and therefore high efficiency of electric motor provides at least 10 to 20 times the efficiency compared to kerosene jet plane.

This should more than compensate the low energy density of batteries. However there is still problem of high take-off and landing weight. Perhaps kerosene powered auxiliary engine could help with the take-off and ascend through thick atmosphere. Descent is easy as regenerative braking can be used and therefore there is enough juice in batteries for vertical landing.

Ambulator
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Ambulator

So, this will be marketed as a trainer, I guess? It looks too small to have much range. It should nonetheless be useful.

Alonso Perez
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Alonso Perez

It would make an awesome glider tow plane, with a bit of extra power.

Tow planes have really horrid efficiency. They operate on full power for a few minutes, then low power, then full again, and so on. The engine is never in thermal steady state. With electric these issues go away. You could probably even regen a bit on the way down, using the turbines as brakes on a steep descent.

electric-car-insider.com
Guest

19.2 kWh
Cruises at 100 mph (87 kts)
~ 1 hour duration.

This begs for swappable batteries and the option to replace the passenger with another 30 kWh of batteries.

2.5 hour single passenger duration.

Essentially free fuel vs avgas. 100,000 hour TBO.

I’m surprised they project such low volumes. This will be an amazingly popular plane if priced reasonably.

Anthony
Guest

I agree, I think these could be very popular aircraft by 2025. I think battery capacity will scale up to 50kWh for the two seater over the next 10 years to allow for 2.5 hr flight time.

Jouni Valkonen
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Jouni Valkonen

range extender is also possible and probably vastly cheaper for longer flights. 20 kW generator should be sufficient.

mike w
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Agreed. “Fuel” costs for this plain are nothing compared with Ava gas. Service intervals on rotating motors should be super long so operating costs should be way lower. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t ava gas still leaded? This thing looks like a good idea.

scott franco
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scott franco

Yes aviation gasoline is still leaded. The AOPA managed to get the government to give us an exception from the conversion from leaded to unleaded. now we are regretting it, because the fact that we use leaded gasoline is a special gasoline produced at higher cost.

Tim
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Tim

An hour flight time is worthless. VFR flight requires 30 min of fuel remaining when you land so unless that hour includes that reserve 30 minutes at 100mph gets you 50 miles with a several hour recharge this plane isn’t going to sell well.

I really like this idea though. 100LL is dirty and expensive.

scott franco
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scott franco

+1, right answer.

Bill Howland
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Bill Howland

So when can we get an EV Airbus 380? It should only take a 10,000 kwh battery.

Patrick
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Patrick

“So when can we get an EV Airbus 380”

Put a small nuclear reactor in it and it should be able to go for years!

seriously

przemo_li
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przemo_li

Old news….

Soviets had it first!

And it flew.

However for some unfathomable reason their plane did not attracted passengers, nor flight crew. Strange.

They had best nuclear plant in lightweight weight class. After all if You strip protective screening….

CounterStrike Cat
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Then you will use the heat directly and not convert it into electricity.

Jouni Valkonen
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Jouni Valkonen

The problem is that compact low emission nuclear reactors are ridiculously expensive. For example, the cheapest method would be use Plutonium-238 radioisotope and that costs about 15 million dollars per kg and it is needed about 100 kg of Pu-238 for e-Fan plane to provide infinite range with 15 kWe stirling generator.

The power density of Pu-238 is about 500 watts per kg and stirling enegine can have about 30-40 % thermal efficiency.

Dan
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Dan

Nice thought in principle, but the infrastructure to operate this would have to be developed. As a trainer I see no problem, but as a privately owned aircraft it would be drastically limited in distance compared to an EV. Keeping technological advancements mind- anything is possible ….. someday.

Mart
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Mart

Does it come with a J1772?

Alan
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Alan

Quite a lot of fuel is used on take off, Hybrid aircraft would certainly be a good start until major battery energy density breakthroughs occur ?

Sveno
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Sveno

It has a 6kW motor connected to a wheel and provides acceleration up to 60km/h.

Sveno
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Sveno

For trainers and skydiving BEV is perfect. For everything else, not even close.

mhpr262
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mhpr262

I am still puzzled why they didn’t use a single, large propeller instead of the two small fans. These things have very poor efficency and are pretty noisy, too. I bet flight time and range could have been improved by 30-50% with one motor and one large (that is, standard size) propeller.

martinwinlow
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martinwinlow

Perhaps it’s something to do with the gearing that would be required for a standard prop – I suspect the fans are direct drive = better efficiency? MW

Mint
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Mint

Probably because shrouded fans are the technology they want to develop, since the end-game is high speed flight.

electric-car-insider.com
Guest

At low speed (~100 kts) ducted fans are more efficient. They are also quieter and safer during ground handling.

Djoni
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Djoni

Well basically, a high bypass turbofan engine is a big duct fan powered by a turbine.
So I can imagine, it’s an efficient design.

mhpr262
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mhpr262

Are you sure? I find that hard to believe. The one and only advantage of ducted fans is the very high velocity of the airstream out their back, which enables them to function and generate sufficient propulsion even at high airspeeds. Large, slow turning propellers are especially efficent at low speeds. I know, I use them for my electric RC glider aircraft.

Alonso Perez
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Alonso Perez
I’m not sure that efficiency considerations are the same with electric motor driven ducted fans compared with piston driven ducted fans. Piston engines lack the flat power curve that electrics have, up to very high RPMs, so the design of a ducted fan for RC aircraft is inherently a compromise. Nobody uses piston engines to drive ducted fans in real aircraft. Also note that the E-fan duct is variable pitch, while RC ducted fans are fixed pitch. The efficiency gain from using a turbine to drive a prop (a turboprop), rather than a ducted fan (a turbofan) is only seen at slow speeds and low altitudes, which is why turboprops are used on short routes. At higher altitudes the ducted fan is more efficient. Airbus Group is in the jet aircraft business and so their ultimate goal is not GA technology, but airline technology. E-fan is probably an early step in that direction. Airbus probably wants to start on the learning curve for electric ducted fan technology, because they see a possibility that high-density battery chemistry is coming. The only real way to do this is to start racking up real world flight hours under various conditions. My guess is… Read more »
Electric-Car-Insider.com
Guest

This debate comes up every time the E-Fan gets coverage. Lots of literature online with the explanation.

Airbus, one of the largest most sophisticated aircraft manufacturers in the world, did not choose this design because it is less efficient. In low power low speed applications, the duct is desireable. It has nothing to do with their future plans for large commercial jets.

They probably chose the multi-engine configuration so that the airplane could be used for multi-engine certification training, replacing the most expensive (to purchase and operate) aircraft in the GA training fleet.

taser54
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taser54
islandboy
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islandboy

I see this aircraft as an opportunity for Airbus to start experimenting with their “Eco-Climb” launch assist technology, as shown here:

http://www.airbus.com/innovation/future-by-airbus/smarter-skies/aircraft-take-off-in-continuous-eco-climb/

I would imagine some sort of flying tether that, stays attached to the aircraft for the first few meters of ascent, providing ground power for the acceleration phase and the first few seconds of ascent. They could also accelerate past take-off velocity using the sled as a sort of ballast, when the aircraft is released it could climb like a conventional aircraft would if it could dump some of it’s payload during take-off.

I wonder if someone with the technical chops, like Anthony up-thread could work out how many more minutes of flying time could be gained by using ground assisted take off (catapults)?

Aircraft carriers use catapults to launch planes because of their extremely short runways. I would imagine that the system envisaged by Airbus is a less extreme version.

Anthony
Guest

After reading your post and watching that video, the idea of a two-stage aircraft came to my mind. You would have some sort of plane exoskeleton that would have its own motors and batteries. After helping the plane take off and get up to 15,000′, it could detach and fly autonomously back to the airport, where it would be recharged for other planes. I dunno, that sounds too complex.

When the plane is on the ground, it may be more effective to have hub-motors in the landing gear that would help propel the plane up to Vr (rotate speed). This may reduce overall takeoff energy usage.

I don’t know if you could use a tether while the aircraft is actually taking off. The sled depicted in the video would have to detach perfectly every time, I don’t know if thats possible in commercial operations. Plus, takeoff rolls aren’t that long (30 seconds) so at an estimated 6.5MW of power, thats “only” 54kWh of energy usage during the takeoff roll. Is 54kWh savings enough to warrant all that extra equipment?

Sveno
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Sveno

BTW the first image is of the E-Fan 4.0 four seater not the 2.0 which enters production now.

scott franco
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scott franco

Where are the performance specs?

Marrying electric drive with ducted fans, which are one of the least efficient ways to power an aircraft, is a questionable idea at best.

scott franco, the evil, greedy republican
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scott franco, the evil, greedy republican

After reading though some of the replies:

The basic issues with this A/C are:

1. Ducted fans have never shown any particular improvement over non-ducted propellers. The efficiency gained by suppressing propeller end vortexes is lost to the drag from the duct itself.

2. There is no reason to introduce two powerplants into the design. Although electric motors are inherently lighter and smaller than gas or turbine engines, they are also far more reliable, negating the need to have two of them in the first place.

As mentioned earlier, the issue with BEV aircraft is range. A one hour aircraft might make it as a sightseeing aircraft, it is not a practical transport aircraft. Most light aircraft can stay aloft for 4-6 hours, and standard practice is to never use that last 1 to 1/2 hour of flight time due to safety concerns.

That doesn’t mean that BEV aircraft don’t have a bright future. The same advances that fuel the car EV revolution will someday make BEV aircraft possible. It will take a 2 to 4 times improvement in battery capacity.

Scott Franco, the greedy republican
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Scott Franco, the greedy republican

Here you are, for anyone interested:

Airbus E-Fan

Data from Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 2014/15

Crew: two
Length: 6.67 m (21 ft 11 in)
Wingspan: 9.50 m (31 ft 2 in)
Max takeoff weight: 550 kg (1,213 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × Electric motor , 30 kW (40 hp) each via eight-blade ducted fans,each producing thrust of 0.75 kN (266 lb st)
Performance

Maximum speed: 220 km/h (137 mph; 119 kn) all performance figures estimated
Cruising speed: 160 km/h (99 mph; 86 kn)
Endurance: 60 min