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German tech company Siemens has commenced test flights on their revolutionary electric powered plane – the Extra 330LE
The aircraft is powered by a new motor system weighing 50kg yet producing 260kw of power, which is claimed to have five times more power than comparable drive systems.
“This day will change aviation,” said Frank Anton, head of eAircraft at Siemens’ central research unit Corporate Technology. “This is the first time that an electric aircraft in the quarter-megawatt performance class has flown.”
The Extra 330LE Electric Powered Plane, which weighs nearly 1000 kilograms, serves as a flying test bed for the new propulsion system. As an aerobatic aircraft it’s particularly well suited for taking the components to their limits, testing them and enhancing their design. Siemens claims the advance in technology means that hybrid-electric aircraft with four or more seats will now be possible.
In addition, the company will contribute this Electric Powered Plane technology to the cooperative project that Siemens and Airbus agreed to in April 2016 for driving the development of electrically powered flight.
Electric drives are scalable, and Siemens and Airbus will use the record-setting motor as a basis for developing regional airliners powered by hybrid-electric propulsion systems. “By 2030, we expect to see aircraft with up to 100 passengers and a range of around 1000 kilometers,” explained Frank.
Siemens chief technology officer Siegfried Russwurm was equally upbeat about the new technology and its potential to revolutionise aviation in the future. “The first flight of our propulsion system is a milestone on the road to electrification of aviation” he said.
“To continue this journey successfully, we need disruptive ideas and the courage to take risks. That’s why the development of electric propulsion systems for aircraft is also the first project for our new start-up organisation, next47. Siemens is determined to establish hybrid-electric propulsion systems for aircraft as a future area of business.”