Airbus’ electric powered aircraft to hit the market in 2017

Airbus showcased their electric powered E-Fan 2.0 aircraft at the 2014 Farnborough air show, which they plan to begin selling in late 2017. The battery-powered two-seater aircraft is suited for pilot training, but planned for later is the hybrid E-Fan 4.0 with a seating capacity of four aimed at the general-aviation market.

The prototype aircraft which weighs about 500kg (1100lbs), has dual electric motors powered by a 120-cell lithium polymer battery. This allows the aircraft to fly for one hour, with an added reserve of 15 minutes flight time.

Although the prototype has tandem seats, the production version will feature side-by-side seats, will have fixed tricycle gear and a flight duration of up to two hours.

The aircraft is designed with ducted fans to increase the thrust and decrease noise. Airbus said that technique also improves the power efficiency during takeoff.

One of the limiting factors of electric aircraft is the weight of the batteries. The current model only allows for a top speed of about 60kmph (37mph).

Airbus believes electric aircraft will become important in coming years as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and noise. The European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 plan has a goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 75 percent from 2000 levels.

The airplanes will be built in France by Voltair, an Airbus-owned company that will develop, build and service the airplanes.