Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Making 'the Impossible Possible' at the Berlin Air Show

E-Fan demonstrator (Credit: Airbus Group) Click to enlarge.
The fully electric E-Fan aircraft, engineered by Airbus Group, made one of its first public demonstrations here last week following it's first-ever flight in France on March 11.

The novel two-seater aircraft was designed from the outset for electrical propulsion, from its energy management system to safety features.  In developing this technology, Airbus aims to one day reduce the aerospace industry's carbon dioxide emissions by an order of magnitude.

"It's a very different way of flying," said Jean Botti, chief technical and innovation officer at Airbus Group, "absolutely no noise, no emissions."

Airbus Group's ultimate goal is to make a 70- to 80-person hybrid-electric commuter jet with three hours of range in the 2050 time frame. Initial designs of the E-Thrust aircraft show the plane with six electric-powered fans that will be powered by a gas-fueled energy storage unit during the ascent and cruise phase and then glide using electric power alone while descending.

In the next step toward achieving this, Airbus will make a next-generation two-seater electric plane, set for launch in 2017, and a four-seater electric plane with a gas-powered range extender, set for launch in 2019.

These advances are steppingstones toward realizing Flight Path 2050, the European Union's aggressive goal to reduce the aviation sector's nitrous oxide emissions by 90 percent, noise pollution by 65 percent, and carbon dioxide emissions by 75 percent by 2050.

While Airbus and other aerospace companies are pushing the limits of today's technology, it will still take a quantum leap from today's aircraft technology to meet the targets set out in Flight Path 2050, according to Botti.

Faced with looming climate regulations now under negotiation at the International Civil Aviation Organization, aircraft makers and operators around the world are also looking for incremental solutions for improving the environmental performance of their fleet.

Making 'the Impossible Possible' at the Berlin Air Show

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