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Electric aircraft makes successful Channel crossing

11 July 2015

Airbus Group’s E-Fan technology demonstrator has become the world’s first twin-engine electric aircraft, taking off under its own power, to cross the English Channel.

E-Fan landing at Calais (photo courtesy of Airbus Group)

Powered by lithium-ion batteries, the E-Fan took off from Lydd on the English south coast on Friday July 10 2015, completing the 74km flight east to Calais, France, in around 37 minutes. Flown by test pilot Didier Esteyne, the all-electric E-Fan weighs around 600kg and gained an altitude of about 1,000m during its cross-channel journey.

A rival attempt the previous evening by pilot Hugues Duval in a tiny Cri-Cri E-Cristaline twin-engine electric aircraft is also claiming this world first record flight. However, unlike E-Fan, the Cri-Cri was carried aloft by a conventionally powered aircraft before being released over the Kent coast to make a successful landing, also in Calais.

E-Fan's electric motors have a total capacity of 60kW and are powered by 120 lithium polymer cells. The aircraft's structure is carbon composite.

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