Electric Airplane Sets New Ascent Record

FEB 2 2017 BY MARK KANE 35

The Extra 330LE aerobatics airplane, with a 260 kW electric motor from Siemens, set a new world record time to climb to a height of 3,000 m (4 min 10 sec) on set on November 25

Frank Anton (right), who heads eAircraft within the next47 startup unit, congratulates pilot Walter Extra, who broke the world record in ascent on November 25, 2016.

That’s one minute and 10 second faster than the previous record held by Chip Yates since 2013.

Siemens boasts that the 260 kW is continuous power output is from a motor weighing only 50 kg.

“Hünxe is a pretty little town in northwestern Germany that has its own local history museum, a castle and a small market square. It also has a landing field that entered the aviation record books on November 25, 2016. That was when Pilot Walter Extra set a new world record in ascent with the Extra 330LE aerobatics plane. Equipped with an electric drive system from Siemens, the electric aircraft reached an altitude of 3,000 meters in only four minutes and 22 seconds. The airplane rose into the air at 11.5 meters per second.”

Frank Anton, who heads eAircraft within Siemens’ next47 startup unit said:

“This is a milestone on the path to electrification in aviation. This enormous achievement was possible only with digital technologies that enabled us to push our drive train to its technological limits.”

For Siemens, the Extra 330LE EV prototype is a test platform for commercial products that one day could include aircrafts with up to 100 passengers:

“The Extra 330LE two-seater will be the ideal test aircraft for the coming years, when the goal will be to analyze and further develop how the individual components of its propulsion system work together. Siemens will also bring the technology to its electric flight collaboration agreement with Airbus, which the two companies signed in April 2016. They want to prove the technical feasibility of hybrid electric drive systems for regional aircraft with up to 100 passengers by 2020. This will require power ratings of up to 10 megawatts. The two partners plan to develop hybrid electric regional aircraft on the basis of the record-breaking motor. “We expect to see the first aircraft with up to 100 passengers and a range of approximately 1,000 kilometers by 2030,” said Anton.”

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35 Comments on "Electric Airplane Sets New Ascent Record"

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Tim Miser

I wonder if it is able to ascend completely vertical?


For vertical ascent you have to forego the weight of the wings like a rocket, but then you cant fly!


I remember as a kid attending an air show, and a F-15 I think it was, took off down the runway, and as it was just about to pass us in the air, it turned straight up, and went up like a rocket to about 3,000 feet in a few seconds then leveled out. One of the most amazing sights I have ever seen.

With enough power, a plane (as in one with wings) can go up like a rocket.


The thing that forgoes wings and goes straight up is called… wait for it…. wait for it…A HELICOPTER! and yes, they can fly:)

Paul Smith

I was told by a pilot that helicopters don’t fly, the earth rejects them.


No vertical would take more horsepower, you don’t get the benefit of wing lift.

Mark C

Vertical ascent requires more pounds of thrust than pounds of weight. Several military fighter aircraft have been able to just that, but IMHO, it isn’t a cost effective capability outside of the military in most cases.

Robert Weekley

Propeller + Jet Engine – Close to Military Power: Jimmy Franklin flying his jet powered waco biplane – https://youtu.be/8dO3nbWcERw


I saw that thing in RI.. Pretty sure it was the loudest thing there, lol


Is this a record for electric airplanes, or for any airplane of this size class?


This is electric only. Don’t know about size class but military jets can go straight up at crazy rates like 40,000 ft in 1 minute including take-off time.


Record to 3000m is 25.37 seconds with Sukhoi P-42. ICE record is just under 2 minutes, and it might not take long before electric get’s close to that.


I know military jets can do that.

My question was about this size class (2-seater or whatever it is)


ICE record 1 min 59 sec is set with two seater Lancair Legacy. About same size.


This is a pointless waste of time. The bottom line is that current batteries are too heavy and lack the energy density to be used for any commercial aviation purpose.


Pointless like any motorsport, but fun.


I will point out other episode of Fully Charged by Robert Llewellyn, in which he interviewed a engineer who also made an electric acrobatic plane, but not as a test bet for larger planes, rather to take advantage of the possibility to distribute the weight of the plane better for acrobatics. Though it is truth current batteries do not offer reasonable density for good enough air time, still the power from such a light weight makes a lot of fun in acrobatics, as he said.


They still can be used as trainers, long time flights are not necessary for this purpose.

And if you add some better electricity source than batteries alone, they can stay in air for longer. HY4 experimental plane can achieve 750-1500 range with cruise speed 145 km/h using electric motor. Not very impressive, but you need to start somewhere. They still have commercial plans to start with air taxis in Germany.


Everything is pointless without the ability to think positive 😉

I think you need to read a bit on engineering history.

So many times things are called “useless ” due to the lack of imagination of those who are stuck in the past.

Once computers were pointless.


Let me add that it seems to be a good indicator for a good development when many established minds think it’s pointless.


Zim said:

“This is a pointless waste of time. …current batteries are too heavy and lack the energy density to be used for any commercial aviation purpose.”

The small two-to-four-seat propeller airplanes called “general aviation” planes could benefit from electric propulsion, for flights up to between 90 minutes and two hours. This may not be sufficient range for many or most buyers, but my understanding is that the range is improving fairly rapidly. So if the range isn’t currently sufficient to compete with ICE power, it should be within a very few years.

For sport sailplanes, electric propulsion is already competitive with ICE propulsion, or perhaps even already superior.

Zim, there is a wide gulf between “pointless waste of time” and “useful for commercial flights”.


Zim, electric propulsion has huge advantages in terms of noise, reliability, operating costs and design flexibilty. These outweigh range limitations for some commercial applications. That’s why Airbus is developing the two-seat E-fan trainer (also possibly a hybrid general aviation four-seater). They hope to start selling E-Fans late this year.

Aerospace companies are also researching hybrid systems for passenger jets, such as the Airbus E-Thust concept. These are much further out, though.


That motor though, I have heard that they don’t even need reduction gears. I wonder if it ever makes it into a production EV at some point. Two of those and you have quite the hp with very minimal motor weight.


Perhaps a lightweight range extender and a little lighter on the battery weight might do the trick.

I was at the airshow watching the F22 Raptor go straight up vertical, but I can assure you it burned more energy in 10 seconds than this electric plane’s total battery capacity.

What is truly amazing is how a 50kg motor puts out what a small block Chevy put out just a few years ago. And this is not peaky HP like an ICE.

Robert Weekley

That 260 kW Motor – at 50 Kg, puts out more power than Engines on a Cessna 182, Cessna 206, Cessna 210, Piper Comanche, Beechcraft Bonanza, and many other high performance Single engine airplanes!

On Twin engine Airplanes – that motor if used on each side – puts out more – or about the same as Engines on the Cessna 414 Titan, Cessna 421 Golden Eagle, Cessna 340, Aerostar 601, and many more!

Paired in a Siamese Twin, (2 on one shaft) – you approach small Turbo Prop Power – at 700 Hp! With that you start to move up to usability on a Rockwell Commander 690, 800, 900, and 1000; Beechcraft King Air 90, King Air 200, and more!

As Batteries improve, the need for PHEV variations in these products dwindles!

premium salmon

Can anybody tell what chemistry/type, capacity and make the batteries were / could have been in the attempt?



It’s described as a Pipistrel brand battery pack, perhaps the one detailed here:


A lot of specs there, but also lots of question marks — literally — and nothing definite on the chemistry. The specs say “? NMC”, so apparently they are li-ion batteries, but I guess Pipistrel isn’t releasing any info on the chemistry.


So… a random thought… if HyperLoop becomes a thing of reality and is able to travel as fast or faster than an airplane, why would we care about electric airplanes in 15 years from now?

Wouldn’t HyperLoop essentially take over for the long distance travel needs of over 100 miles once the technology is ready and routes built? Will airlines become a thing of the past?

Robert Weekley

I am sure Hyper Loop would well be fast or faster, but the view ain’t the same as flying ones self! Just like Flying today – some people like to drive and see around!


Hyperloop will only go where they build hyperloop tubes, just as trains only go where railroads are built.

There will continue to be a need for light planes in remote areas such as Alaska, the African veldt, and the Aussie Outback; places where roads don’t go.


In theory the best climb rate would be from an electrocompressor feeding an arcjet but that would suck electricity like hell and drain the battery in seconds. If the battery gets bigger it would last longer but then the extra weight would reduce the climb rate. I still wonder what real life results would give though. Just curious.


It is also much quieter according to the video. That would make it so much more pleasurable to ride a plane.

Craig Askings

I wonder how well it would work as a tow plane for sailplanes (gliders)?


If it can climb it can probably tow a glider.
I would imagine the neighbors would appreciate less noise.