Extra thrust

6 months ago Comments Off on Extra thrust

THIS aeroplane may not look special, but it is. Its airframe is that of a 330L, an aerobatic craft built by Extra Flugzeugbau of Dinslaken, Germany. It is propelled, though, by an electric motor built by another German company, Siemens.

Electric aircraft are, as it were, in the air—with projects like the Solar Impulse, a sun-powered plane about to complete a round-the-world flight, and Antares, a motorised glider. But the 330LE, as it is dubbed, is the first to have an airframe already certified for sale and also the first (other than motorised gliders) to use an electric engine its makers plan to have certified as well. The 330LE’s initial public outing, on July 4th, was thus a step forward for the field.

The motor itself weighs a mere 50kg. That compares with 201kg for the 9,550cc, six-cylinder device a 330L normally sports. Batteries are not included, however, and that makes a bit of a difference—for the batteries required weigh 150kg each, and two are needed. One sits conveniently in the liberated space in the engine compartment, but the second has to be strapped to the co-pilot’s seat. For this and other reasons, the plane’s…Continue reading
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