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Electric plane flies for 48 minutes

07 January, 2008

A French organisation that develops electrically-powered aircraft, claims to have set a new endurance record for a fixed-wing aircraft powered solely by batteries. A few days before Christmas, the single-seater Electra aircraft completed a flight over the Alps that lasted 48 minutes and covered more than 50km.

Apame electric plane

The wood-and-fabric kit aircraft was propelled by an 18kW brushed disc motor, powered by a lithium-polymer battery weighing 47kg.

The craft has been developed by Apame (Association pour la Promotion des Aeronefs a Motorisation Electrique), an organisation funded by French aerospace companies and other donors. Apame is planning to apply for an airworthiness certificate for the plane and says that a commercial version could be available within two years.

The Electra’s motor and batteries cost €10,000–15,000 – about the same as a petrol engine – but the fuel costs are just €1 per hour, compared to about €60 for an equivalent petrol-driven craft.

The aircraft, with a 7m wingspan, is designed to cruise at 90km/h. It weighs 134kg without its batteries and has a maximum take-off weight of 265kg. Apame says that the battery can be recharged in 45 minutes.

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